Priest rescued as Philippine troops retake Marawi militant stronghold

Priest rescued as Philippine troops retake Marawi militant stronghold
Marawi's vicar-general Father Teresito "Chito" Soganub smiles as he is flanked by Philippine Armed Forces chief Eduardo Ano (L) and Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, after soldiers rescued him from the Daesh-linked rebels stronghold in Marawi, during a news conference in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines September 18, 2017. (REUTERS)
Updated 18 September 2017

Priest rescued as Philippine troops retake Marawi militant stronghold

Priest rescued as Philippine troops retake Marawi militant stronghold

MANILA: Philippine troops rescued a catholic priest held hostage for almost four months by Daesh-linked rebels after an offensive that captured a stronghold of the militants in southern Marawi City, defense officials said on Monday.
Marawi’s vicar-general Father Teresito “Chito” Soganub was kidnapped along with other Christians as militants rampaged through the city on May 23, burning churches and schools, releasing prisoners and seizing arms in a well-planned assault.
Soganub, flanked by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and military chief General Eduardo Ano, appeared to be in good health and high spirits when he was presented to the media in Manila. He expressed his thanks but gave no statement.
“Our troops gained the upper hand, the terrorists were forced to withdraw to nearby structures on the periphery of the mosque,” Lorenzana told a media briefing in Manila, referring to the Bato mosque held by the rebels for 117 days.
“Troops had opportunity to snatch Father Chito...”
The appearance of Soganub is some rare good news for a military that has suffered a string of setbacks in Marawi, from deadly accidents during a controversial campaign of air strikes to repeatedly missing deadlines on when the battle would be won.
The siege of the city by an alliance of rebels from the island of Mindanao, and numerous foreign fighters, has been the biggest internal security crisis in years for the Philippines, a country used to separatist and communist rebellions.
Soganub made an appearance under duress in a militant propaganda video about a week after his capture, urging the government to stop the military operation in Marawi in exchange for sparing lives of hostages.
The priest was among scores held by militants at the Bato mosque, one of Marawi’s largest, which troops captured on Saturday afternoon. He was rescued along with another hostage, Lordvin Ocopio.
The rebels who laid siege to Marawi are from an extremist faction of the Abu Sayyaf group, led by Isnilon Hapilon, the so-called “emir” of Southeast Asia, and members of the militant Maute family, which has deep clan connections in the lakeside town and surrounding areas.
Military chief Ano said about 10 foreigners were still in the battle among some 50-60 rebels, who were holding 45-50 hostages.
Hapilon was among those still fighting but several of the Maute brothers were likely dead, Ano added, citing information provided by civilians who escaped and some captured rebels.
As of Monday, 149 members of government forces had died in combat, along with 47 civilians.
More than 670 militants have been killed, according to a military estimate of bodies recovered and targets hit.


Militants open fire and burn police car in Philippine town

Updated 04 December 2020

Militants open fire and burn police car in Philippine town

Militants open fire and burn police car in Philippine town

COTABATO, Philippines: Dozens of militants aligned with the Daesh group opened fire on a Philippine army detachment and burned a police patrol car in a southern town but withdrew after troops returned fire, officials said Friday.
There were no immediate reports of injuries in Thursday night’s brief attack by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Datu Piang town. Nevertheless it sparked panic among residents and rekindled fears of a repeat of a 2017 militant siege of southern Marawi city that lasted for five months before being quelled by government forces.
“We are on top of the situation. This is just an isolated case,” regional military commander Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr. said in a statement.
Security officials gave differing statements on the motive of the 30 to 50 gunmen. Some said the militants targeted Datu Piang’s police chief over a feud but others speculated that the militants wanted to project that they are still a force to reckon with by attacking the army detachment in the center of the predominantly Muslim town.
Officials denied earlier reports that the militants managed to seize a police station and burn a Roman Catholic church.
When reinforcement troops in armored carriers arrived and opened fire, the militants fled toward a marshland, military officials said.
The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters is one of a few small armed groups waging a separatist rural insurrection in the south of the largely Roman Catholic nation. The groups opposed a 2014 autonomy deal forged by the largest Muslim rebel group in the south with the Philippine government and have continued on and off attacks despite being weakened by battle setbacks, surrenders and factionalism.
The armed groups include the Abu Sayyaf, which has been blacklisted by the United States and the Philippines as a terrorist organization for kidnappings for ransom, beheadings and bombings.