MANILA - (UPDATED) Two civilians were rescued Sunday from the war zone in Marawi, some 4 months after they were taken by Islamic State-linked terrorists who laid siege to parts of the southern city.
The 2 hostages reportedly escaped late Saturday, hours after the military retook the Bato mosque and a school from the extremists, an ABS-CBN source said.
Fr. Chito Suganob was reportedly among the rescued captives, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said in a Facebook post, citing his staff based in Iligan City.
An ABS-CBN source also sent a purported photo of Suganob after his rescue.
But when asked for confirmation, Dureza said in a text message to ABS-CBN News: "Let's wait for AFP official announcement and from the Palace. Mil (military) ops ongoing so we don't jeopardize their ops."
Military spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla meanwhile told ABS-CBN News that he could not yet confirm the news pending official reports from Marawi troops.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella and Col. Edgard Arevalo, the military's public affairs chief, also declined to comment on the report, saying this may jeopardize the safety of troops and hostages.
Fighting between security forces and Islamic State-linked terrorists has been raging for nearly 4 months in Marawi, leaving at least 845 dead, most of them terrorists, and hundreds of thousands displaced.
The prolonged conflict has left much of the once bustling urban center ravaged, and the government has begun plans for its rehabilitation.
Keep refreshing this link for updates. -- With Jeff Hernaez, ABS-CBN News