Philippine soldiers killed in 'friendly fire' by its air force

Philippine officials revealed on Thursday that their military forces had suffered a heavy setback in their fight against Islamist militants in Marawi City after a plane missed its bombing target and killed at least 10 government troops.

Brig. General Restituto Padilla, AFP spokesperson told reporters in a press conference on Thursday that the probe was ordered by AFP chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Año. And there were stories - stories of things that mothers and fathers hope never happen to their families. "It hit our troops ... there must be some mistake there", said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

Padilla said the day before that troops have cleared nearly 90 percent of Marawi, where the gunmen linked to the Islamic State extremist group have been fending off government troops since a botched raid to capture a veteran rebel leader triggered a militant rampage.

Rohan Gunaratna, a terrorism expert at Singapore's S. Rarajatnam School of International Studies, believes that IS and the smaller regional groups are working together to show their strength and declare a Philippine province part of the caliphate that IS says it created in the Middle East.

A marine battalion left an air force base in Manila on deployment to the southern city of Marawi where ongoing violence has killed scores of people.

The military is expected to elaborate more on the incident later Thursday.

Lorenzana announced the ambitious deadline last week, May 26, during the visit of President Rodrigo Duterte to a military camp in nearby Iligan City.

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Amid the concerns about the rising threat of ISIS, Lorenzana said militants from Saudi Arabia, Chechnya, Yemen, Malaysia and Indonesia were among the dead. Troops engaged rebel snipers, as helicopters circled, identifying targets.The military said rebels were using women and children as human shields.

The minister raised the possibility of limiting airstrikes if government troops converge within cities controlled by militants.

The deaths of the soldiers bring the number of security forces killed to 38, apart from 19 civilians and 120 Islamist fighters killed in the urban warfare in Lanao del Sur's provincial capital.

It was sparked by the attempted capture of a top militant leader by the army.

"This is what our religion Islam tells us, please, release him now, immediately", he said on television. He said the Maute group was being given too much credit, and that the occupation of Marawi was the work of Islamic State, and planned a long time ago.

Hapilon is an Islamic preacher and former commander of the Abu Sayyaf militant group who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in 2014. He said there have been efforts to reach out to parties who may conduct back-channel talks to help free the hostages. "And siguro we have to limit the air strikes to the aircrafts that can deliver accurately their ordnance", he added.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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