Gov't forces rescue abducted priest, professor from Marawi City

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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.

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.

Father Soganub had been held captive since militants attacked his Saint Mary's Parish during the siege of Marawi on May 23.

There was no information on the fate of other hostages that Suganob said could reach more than 200, including six other teachers from Dansalan College, when he appealed to Duterte on a video released by IS in May as proof of life. Photos showing him, a young man and a woman slumped against a wall had also circulated on the Internet. With fewer fighters, the militants have forced some of their hostages to join the fighting and have resorted to improvised bombs and booby traps to slow the military advance, he said. "And in the course of fleeing, they were identified by the military and they were brought to a safer place" Medina said in the Inquirer report.

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.

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Military sources said Father Soganub had already been flown to Davao city, where he was set to meet with President Rodrigo Duterte.

"They now force the hostages, especially the male hostages to fight with them, " Brawner said on GMA 7 news program 24 Oras. "That's our arrangement", he said.

Fighting between state troops and Islamic State-linked terrorists have been raging for almost four months in Marawi, leaving at least 845 dead, a lot of them terrorists, and hundreds of thousands displaced.

The military is expecting more firefights in Marawi as troops continue to push towards enemy defensive positions in the city besieged by terrorists since May.

The siege has sparked fears that the Islamic State group may gain a foothold in Southeast Asia by influencing and providing funds to local militants as it suffers battle defeats in Syria and Iraq.