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

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In a statement, Armed Forces of the Philippines-Public Affairs Office (AFP-PAO) chief Marine Col. Edgard Arevalo, said they can not still provide any details in order not to jeopardize the lives of the soldiers and other hostages there.

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

Colonel Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of the task force battling the militants, said the military had encountered some of the heaviest resistance in recovering the mosque.

The police said Maute terrorists raped numerous women they held inside the mosques as shields to prevent military forces from closing in. "We are ready for that".

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At least two militant leaders, Isnilon Hapilon and Omarkhayam Maute, were believed to still be with the gunmen in Marawi, Col Brawner said. "(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. "We have to be very careful", he said.

However Dureza said no other information has been provided regarding the rescue.

Secretary Jesus Dureza, the presidential peace adviser, said the Reverend Teresito "Chito" Suganob was rescued by soldiers who recaptured the Masjid Bato Ali Mosque, described as the terrorists "command and control hub".

The rubble-strewn streets of Marawi were practically empty except for scores of heavily armed soldiers securing the area.

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About 600 militants, waving Islamic State-style black flags, seized commercial buildings, mosque and houses in the city's central business district on May 23 after an army-led assault failed to get Hapilon and other militant leaders in a safe house in the mosque-studded city.

More than 800 militants, government troops, and civilians have since been killed in ongoing airstrikes and streets battles, which have destroyed large parts of the once-bustling city and forced thousands of local residents to flee their homes. "We do not want this kind of terrorism to flourish or expand", he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte has deployed thousands of troops and imposed martial law across the southern third of the country to deal with the crisis, while the military has launched a US-backed air campaign against the militants.

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