The Philippine military said Sunday it had captured the command centre of Islamic State group supporters who have besieged a southern city for almost four months.
Fighting between state troops and Islamic State-linked terrorists has been raging for almost four months in Marawi, leaving at least 845 dead, majority terrorists, and hundreds of thousands displaced.
Father Teresito Soganub was last seen in May in a video, apparently taken under duress by the militants, where he said he was with about 200 other hostages and that his captors wanted the military to withdraw its forces from Marawi.
Philippine forces have held back launching a full-scale attack on rebel strongholds, fearing for the lives of Father Soganub and several hundred other hostages.
A Maute gunman was also killed in the offensive a day earlier, September 16. It has been pounding the battle area with air strikes throughout the week.
This developed as Colonel Romeo Brawner, the deputy head of Joint Task Force Marawi, disclosed that some Maute terrorists have responded favourably to the military's appeal that they surrender.
Some 600 terrorists have been killed since May 23 when the Maute Group attacked Marawi and took over some government buildings, hospitals, schools and banks.
"As follow-up and clearing operations continue, we expect the enemy to yield more occupied positions but not without a fight", General Ano said.
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.
Accounts from hostages who either escaped or were rescued said the militants had forced them to convert to Islam, carry wounded fighters to mosques, and the women to marry militants.
"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".
They surfaced on social media where he sought the help of President Rodrigo Duterte to halt the offensive against the militants.