Marawi bishop 'happy' over rescue of abducted priest

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"As follow-up and clearing operations continue, we expect the enemy to yield more previously occupied positions, but not without a fight".

The Bato Ali Mosque is the third worship site in Marawi City that combined police and military contingents have reclaimed from Maute gunmen since early September.

Philippine security forces have rescued a senior Catholic cleric held for almost four months by Muslim militants who have besieged the southern city of Marawi.

WestMinCom spokesperson Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay said the death toll among government forces has reached 149.

In addition to increasing their numbers with civilians, the Maute group also has been reported to be augmenting their production of improvised explosive devices by using dud bombs dropped by government forces. "The Maute terrorists now force their hostages, especially the male hostages to fight with the troops".

The school was burned down by Maute terrorists on May 23 as they laid siege to strategic areas there, sparking hostilities that have since dragged on.

Father Soganub was taken hostage along with about a dozen of his parishioners after hundreds of armed extremists flying the black flag of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) stormed and occupied large parts of Marawi, the Islamic capital of the mainly Catholic Philippines, on May 23.

Armed Forces chief of staff General Eduardo Año told reporters in Manila that "This (retaking of Bato mosque) enormous gain further weakened the terrorist group by denying them their erstwhile strongholds".

He added that the rescue operation is still ongoing in the area.

In a statement he posted in his Facebook account, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Jesus Dureza said that based on information provided by Franklin M. Quijano, Father Suganob, together with another hostage, was rescued by troops near Bato mosque at about 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

Early last month, government security forces also regained control of the Grand Mosque located at the center of the battle zone in Marawi.

The rescue came after the Philippine military said some of the militants had sent text messages saying they were prepared to surrender, after receiving promises they would not be killed and would be treated humanely.

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