Philippine airstrike kills 11 soldiers in 'friendly fire'

Posted June 02, 2017

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Thursday the fighters from various militant groups that gathered in Marawi had a big plan to take over the city.

The minister said the government of the Pacific Ocean archipelago was examining the incident.

"Since the Philippine government announced martial law, there have been relentless air strikes, 'surgical air strikes, ' as the Philippine military described it", Al Jazeera reported from the outskirts of Marawi City.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte had warned the people in the besieged southern region of the country that he will be harsh in enforcing the martial law there in the wake of a Muslim extremist siege on the city. The Philippine army affirmed that 90 percent of the city's areas were freed from the militants.

Military spokesmen said fighting alongside the militants are prisoners they freed from the city's two jails last week and an unknown number of foreign fighters.

He said the military has so far identified two Malaysians, two Saudis, two Indonesians, a Yemeni, and a Chechen as among those killed in the siege.

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Militants who are said to be loyal to the Islamic State are on the target of the security forces since May 23 in Marawi where around 200,000 residents have fled, but about 2,000 civilians are trapped in the areas where the militants have hegemony.

Lorenzana added that the failed airstrike was the first accident of its kind in the history of the Philippine air force and that the military would investigate what went wrong to prevent future incidents. "We don't know yet what exactly happened", he added. "The drive, resolve of every AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) personnel in the air, ground and water remain undiminished", Padilla told reporters.

The military, he said, will incessantly push our way forward to retake the remaining part of Marawi and liberate the people who have been used as human shield.

The militants have murdered 19 civilians, the military has said, while insisting none have died in any air assaults or the intense street-to-street battles.

About 100 militants, troops and civilians have been killed.

Fighters from the pro-Islamic State Maute group are clinging to the heart of the city, threatening to kill hostages, despite air and ground attacks by security forces for an eighth day.

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The US lists Hapilon as one of the world's most risky terrorists and has offered a bounty of 5 million United States dollars for his capture. Hapilon is wanted by USA law enforcement, but dozens of militants took to the streets to defend him and rampaged through Marawi.

Hapilon was being protected by members of the local Maute group, a small band of militants that has declared allegiance to IS, according to the government.

President Duterte gave a speech on Thursday, and although he didn't mention the soldier's deaths in the airstrike, he restated his belief that the rebel fighters are "purely" Islamic State group.

Muslim rebels have been waging a separatist rebellion in the south of the predominantly Roman Catholic nation for decades.

The Maute, the Abu Sayyaf and other hardline groups have rejected the peace process.

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