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CATHEDRAL TORCHED

Maute group holds hostage Marawi priest, several parishioners —bishop


Members of the Maute group torched a cathedral and took hostage a priest and several parishioners during a siege in Marawi City on Tuesday, a bishop said Wednesday.

Bishop Edwin dela Peña said the Maute group members torched Cathedral of Our Lady Help of Christians and abducted several people, including Father Teresito Suganob.

Also kidnapped by the bandits were Wendelyn Mayornita, the parish church's secretary, and a certain Professor Nik-nik, the parish council president.

Dela Peña added that two working students and several parishioners were also taken by the bandits to "an undisclosed location."

"They have taken hostage a parish priest and several parishioners," the bishop told radio dzBB in an interview.

Dela Peña said in an interview on Balitanghali that around 10 people are held by the Maute Group.

He said the bandits barged in the church while parishioners were holding a novena. Dela Peña added that they were supposed to celebrate the Feast of the Mary Help of Christians today.

"Pinasok yung bahay, yung bishop's house was broken by this group mga 7:30 siguro last night and then tumawag sa akin about that time using the cellphone of our secretary, pero yung boses ay yung boses ng Maute," Dela Peña said.

He added that the person over the phone demanded Dela Peña to contact the military and tell them to stop its operations against the Maute Group, or else they will kill the hostages.

"They demanded that I arrange with the military for the cessation of pagtutugis sa kanila and mag-declare ng ceasefire at huwag na huwag silang hahabulin. I was given one hour to do it," Dela Peña said.

The bishop said he was able to inform the military, in particular Western Mindanao Command chief Maj. Gen. Carlito Galvez, regarding the incident.

Dela Peña said he has yet to hear from updates either from the military or the Maute Group following his conversation with Galvez.

"After that call may tumawag ulit maybe about 30 minutes after to verify whether such arrangement was already made by the military. Sabi ko, 'We are still trying' [and] parang they were disappointed dahil wala pa. After that wala na, hindi ko na siya ma-contact until now," he said.

Reports said more than a hundred members of the Maute group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Liberation Front and Abu Sayyaf group attacked the city on Tuesday.

The bandits also reportedly torched the city jail and a school in Marawi.

President Rodrigo Duterte has placed the entire Mindanao under martial law due to the attack in the city. —with Joseph Tristan Roxas/ALG/KG, GMA News

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