Ten Philippines soldiers were killed by “friendly” fire in a military air raid during efforts to take back a southern city sieged by fighters, the defence minister said on Thursday.
Another seven were wounded during Wednesday’s botched raid in Marawi City, on Mindanao island.
Philippine army vows to save civilians trapped by ISIL-linked fighters in Marawi
“A group of our military army men were hit by our own air strikes,” minister Delfin Lorenzana said. “It’s sad, but sometimes that happens,” he added.
“Sometimes in the fog of war, maybe the coordination was not properly done, so we hit our own people,” he added.
The Philippine armed forces have been using a combination of ground operations by soldiers and helicopters air raids to try to dislodge rebels linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, who have occupied parts of Marawi City for eight days.
Scores of people – including dozens of civilians – have been killed in the fighting as troops attempt to flush out fighters.
‘Relentless air strikes’
Marawi, a mostly Muslim-populated city of 200,000 people, lies about 800km south of the capital, Manila.
President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in the south throughout mid-July after the fighters went on a deadly rampage in Marawi last week, following an unsuccessful military raid to capture Ismilon Hapilon – a veteran Filipino fighter regarded as the local ISIL leader.
“Since the Philippine government announced martial law, there have been relentless air strikes,’surgical air strikes,‘ as the Philippine military described it,” Al Jazeera’s Jamela Alindogan, reporting from the outskirts of Marawi City, said.
“There have been organisations and civilians here who have been asking the government to stop the air strikes, simply because of the danger they pose for civilians.”
More than 2,000 people are estimated to be trapped in the conflict zones in Marawi, fearing for their lives amid violence by fighters and military air raids.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies
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