Philippine soldiers killed in 'friendly fire'

Government forces are using helicopters to attack pockets of Marawi city where officials say 89 Islamist militants have been killed but remaining gunmen are putting up strong resistance and holding hostages

An air strike ordered by the Philippines government killed ten of its soldiers on Wednesday in the city of Marawi, where the military has been battling fighters affiliated to the Islamic States group for the past week.

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. Gen. Restituto Padilla said Thursday, adding they were needed to neutralize Maute snipers.

"Friendly fire" has killed 11 soldiers and wounded seven others in the Philippines.

"Sometimes mistake happens. And we hope those mistakes do not happen and nangyari nga".

Lorenzana said Saudi, Malaysian, Indonesian, Yemeni and Chechen militants were among eight foreigners killed, in what experts say is a sign the Philippines could become a regional hub for extremism that Manila may not have the capability to contain. But the website MaxDefense Philippines said it had a poor serviceability record and funding issues and lacked numerous capabilities of typical attack jets, like radar and internal guns. "I later left when the fighting got too intense".

On May 23, heavily-armed militants attacked Marawi - which has a population of about 200,000 people - when the military was searching for an Abu Sayyaf leader hidden in the city.

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

Asked if they are members of the global terror group ISIS, Lorenzana said, "I believe so".

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

Up to 120 terrorists, 25 soldiers, and 19 civilians were killed, according to a military report. Fighters loyal to him surprised government forces with their firepower, fending off air strikes and house-to-house searches.

The militants mostly belonged to a local group called the Maute, and the infamous Abu Sayyaf kidnap-for-ransom gang that Hapilon has helped lead for many years.

"We want to live another day, we want to live another month", Suganob said, standing in front of debris and partially burned buildings.

Duterte said the Maute group was being given too much credit, and that the occupation of Marawi was the work of Islamic State, and planned long ago.

"I think it's horrific for the civilian people who are in there and we really hope that both sides can agree that the civilians should be given the opportunity to come out", the deputy head of the ICRC's Philippine delegation, Martin Thalmann, told AFP in Marawi on Wednesday.

He changed his mind on last week's offer of dialogue with the Maute and said he "will not talk to terrorists".

The military was carrying out air strikes on locations it believes are sheltering Isnilon Hapilon, the so-called emir of Islamic State and point man in the Philippines.

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