Philippine military air strike 'accidently' kills 10 soldiers

In a case of apparent "friendly fire", Philippine military airstrikes aimed at Islamist militants "Maute" in the southern city of Marawi killed 11 soldiers and wounded seven others, defense and military officials said Thursday.

He said the corridor will be implemented by the government and the main separatist group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which has signed a peace agreement in exchange for Muslim autonomy in Mindanao, the southern third of the Philippines where a Muslim rebellion has raged for decades.

President Rodrigo Duterte is concerned radical ideology is spreading in the southern Philippines and it could become a haven for militants forced out of Iraq and Syria. "Accidents happen, like this", Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told a news conference.

He added, "It is sad but sometimes that happens, sometimes in the tug of war".

Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said Hapilon is believed to still be in Marawi.

A video posted on the website of Islamic State's Amaq news agency shows mostly young fighters, and the bodies of dead soldiers inside a vehicle. Lorenzana said that the militants, whose numbers are dwindling, "cannot hold that long" against a trained force with superior firepower and numbers.

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

According to CNN Philippines, on Wednesday two jets were conducting strikes against members of the Maute group, which has pledged allegiance to ISIS, when one struck members of the 55th Infantry Battalion.

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.

Civilians have reported "a lot of foreign-looking fighters" in Marawi, he added.

On Wednesday, the International Committee of the Red Cross called for a humanitarian ceasefire.

A Philippines Air Force plane bombed at least 11 of its own soldiers and wounded several others in a "friendly fire" on Wednesday.

"We will be unrelenting in the pursuit of our mission".

"We will incessantly push our way forward to retake the remaining part of Marawi and liberate the people that the terrorists continue to use as human shields".

The fighting in Marawi has killed at least 95 militants, 30 security forces and 19 civilians.

Last week, two suicide bombings in Jakarta, Indonesia, killed three police officers, an attack claimed by IS.

The conflict began after a botched raid to bring down Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, a high-profile terrorist target believed to have been tasked with carrying out Islamic State operations in Southeast Asia.

Hapilon is wanted by US law enforcement, but dozens of militants took to the streets to defend him and rampaged through Marawi.

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

  • Tracy Klein