A Roman Catholic priest abducted by Islamist militants who seized parts of a southern Philippine city has been seen alive, the military said Monday, as troops pressed on with their offensive.
Military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jo-Ar Herrera said the militants were deliberately burning houses and using improvised bombs, booby traps and hostages as human shields to delay the troops' advance, five weeks into the fighting.
Hundreds of gunmen flying the black flag of the Islamic State (IS) group occupied parts of Marawi on May 23, triggering bloody fighting that has claimed nearly 400 lives according to an official count.
Father Teresito "Chito" Suganob, a Catholic priest assigned to Marawi, was taken hostage along with some parishioners early in the siege.
"We don't have details of his health. We were just told that he was sighted alive," he told reporters, citing accounts from civilians rescued from the battle zone.
Fighting resumed with renewed fury on Monday, with government fighter jets and other aircraft seen carrying out bombing attacks.