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Catholic priest and parishioners held hostage by Islamist terrorists in the Philippines

Wednesday, May 24, 2017, 16:03 (IST)

A Filipino Catholic priest and some parishioners have been kidnapped and taken hostage by radical Islamic terrorists.

Today the president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) appealed for prayers for the victims of the attack in Marawi City in the Philippines, according to ABS-CBN News.

'Fr Chito Suganob and others were in the Cathedral of St Mary's when members of the Maute fighting group forced their way into the Cathedral, taking with them Fr Chito and others as hostages,' CBCP president Archbishop Socrates Villegas said in a statement.

He added: 'They have threatened to kill the hostages if the government forces unleashed against them are not recalled.'

The Maute group – radical Islamist militants – reportedly broke into Suganbob's house in the compound, kidnapping the priest, his secretary, two students and at least ten parishioners.

'At the time of his capture, Fr Chito was in the performance of his ministry as a priest. He was not a combatant. He was not bearing arms. He was a threat to none. His capture and that of his companions violates every norm of civilized conflict,' Bishop Edwin dela Peña, Prelature of Marawi Diocese told radio DZMM.

The hashtag #PrayforMarawi has been used, and archbishop Villegas implored fervent prayer for Fr Chito and rest of the hostages. He also asked the government to 'make the safety of the hostages a primordial consideration', while Marawi officials continue to assess the abduction and their response.