A priest and several churchgoers have been taken hostage by fighters in Marawi City, on the Philippine island of Mindanao, as thousands of residents fled ongoing unrest that prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law in the southern region.
Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, said fighters had forced their way into the Marawi Cathedral and seized a priest, 10 worshippers and three church workers.
"They have threatened to kill the hostages if the government forces unleashed against them are not recalled," Villegas said in a statement.
"[The priest] 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 civilised conflict," he added.
The husband of a woman being held hostage said he was worried about his wife, a secretary at the cathedral, because she does not have her medicines for a heart problem.
"I hope they free them, including Father Chito and my wife and their companions, because they are innocent," Jaime Mayormita told Manila's DZMM radio.
The man said when he last called his wife, someone else answered her phone, telling him to ask the military not to go near the area.
Mayormita added he had not been able to contact his wife since then.
Officials were not available for comment on the report of hostage-taking.