Priest abducted by Islamists appears in video appealing for Philippines to stop military offensive

Fr 'Chito' Suganob, who was abducted by Islamist militants last week in Marawi, Philippines.Facebook / Chito Suganob

The priest taken hostage last week along with around a dozen parishioners by Islamist militants in the Philippines hasappeared in a video appealing for the government to halt military offensives in the troubled city of Marawi.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines today confirmed that the man in the video circulating online was Fr Chito Suganob who was at St. Mary's cathedral when he was abducted alongside members of his congregation.

The priest was taken hostage by the Islamist Maute group in the Muslim-dominated Marawi city, where troops have been mounting an offensive against militants.

Catholic leaders earlier appealed for help from Muslim religious heads for Suganob's release.

'I pray for the safety of all the hostages. I appeal to the consciences of the hostage takers not to harm the innocent as the Islamic faith teaches. I appeal to religious leaders of Islam to influence the hostage takers to release the hostages unharmed,' said Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo in an interview with the church-run radio station Veritas.

Suganob was abducted after Maute rebels launched attacks against government troops who were chasing a terrorist leader, Isnilon Hapilon.

Bishop Edwin dela Peña, the prelature of Marawi, had said that terrorists broke into Suganob's house inside the Cathedral's compound and took with them the priest along with the parish secretary, two working students, and at least 10 other parishioners.