Military expects more firefights in Marawi as troops push to gain ground

Philippine priest abducted by IS terrorists escapes

Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said on Sunday that lawyer Franklin Quijano, a newly appointed staff of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, relayed to him via text message that soldiers immediately took Suganob to a safe area far from the worship site. "(But) we can not give you details as of now lest we imperil the lives not only of our soldiers but more so that of the hostages", Arevalo said.

In a phone interview with Rappler, Dureza said Soganub was rescued near Bato Mosque.

The priest had appeared in a video released by the militants pleading for his life and asking the military to cease their aerial bombardments.

Photographs showing Father Soganub slumped against a wall were circulated on the internet.

Father Teresito Soganub, whose common nickname is Chito, but pictured here with a "Sito" name tag, is among the hostages held by local terrorists in Marawi City since May 23.

Edgard Arevalo said they are still validating if Suganob was among the two hostages rescued by the government troops on Saturday evening.

Father Soganub is expected to be taken to meet president Rodrigo Duterte after receiving medical treatment.

Security forces have engaged in ferocious street-to-street combat and launched airstrikes in their efforts to expel the fighters from Marawi, in a conflict that has raised fears that ISIS is looking to establish a South-east Asian base in the Philippines.

"Secretary Delfin Lorenzana of the Department of National Defence who was also appointed by Duterte as the martial law administrator for Mindanao, earlier said government forces were close to retaking the entire city".

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

General Carlito Galvez said in a statement issued Sunday that troops finally regained the Bato Mosque and the Amaitul Islamiya Marawi Foundation as well as the Jamaitul Philippine Al-Islamiyah buildings at past 5 p.m. on Saturday. "We are ready for that".

At least 860 people, including more than 660 militants and 147 troops and police, have been killed since the siege began in Marawi, regarded as a centre of Islamic faith in the southern third of the largely Roman Catholic nation.

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