An air strike on Islamist rebel killed 11 government soldiers in Philippine’s southern city, said the armed forces on Thursday. In a major blow to end the country’s bigger crisis of internal security, seven other soldiers were also wounded in the strike when two air force SF-260 dropped bombs on the target set at the heart of the Marawi City.
The nine-day operation was aimed at flushing out the Islamist rebels of Maute group through a combination of ground assaults and helicopter rocket attacks.
Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said, “Sometimes in the fog of war a lot of things could happen. Accidents happen, like this.”
“It’s very sad to be hitting our own troops. There must be a mistake somewhere, either someone directing from the ground or the pilot,” he added.
Over the past nine days, the number of security forces killed has reached to 38, with 19 civilians and 120 rebel fighters killed in the battles in Marawi. The eight foreigners killed fighting with the Maute rebels were Saudi, Malaysian, Indonesian, Yemeni and Chechen.
This terror group has proven to be a fierce enemy with greater troop strength.
The Philippine lawmakers sharply criticised the government on Thursday for its handling of the battle in the wake of soldier’s deaths.
A former Marine Captain and Representative Gary Alejano urged the government to look into the matter and reconsider airstrikes, bombing guns and bombardments in the areas as it might lead to loss of lives and further damage to the people of Marawi.
He said, “Once the dust settles, the people of Marawi might not have homes anymore to go back to.”
On Thursday, the military in a statement issued said that the airstrike came after other successful air runs but the last one went wayward and hit the soldiers unknowingly.