Philippine airstrike kills 11 soldiers in ‘friendly fire’

In this image made from video, marines board a transport plane in Manila, Philippines, Wednesday, June 1, 2017. 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. (AP Photo)

MARAWI, Philippines (AP) — A Philippine air force plane dropping bombs on Islamic extremists killed 11 soldiers and wounded seven others in “friendly fire” as government forces were struggling to rout the militants who have laid a weeklong siege in a southern city, the military said Thursday.

The Marchetti S-211 jet was on a bombing run over militant positions in Marawi city Wednesday when one bomb hit army troops locked in close-range combat with the extremists who have taken cover in buildings and houses, military spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said. The plane had made three successful bombing runs before dropping the wayward bomb.

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Padilla said the military has ordered an investigation of the friendly fire, which reflects the difficulty faced by government forces to contain the insurrection despite their overwhelming number and firepower.

“Despite the stringent procedure followed, there happens even with the best of armed forces, a case of friendly fire hitting our own troops,” Padilla told The Associated Press.

Military chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Ano has ordered an investigation partly to prevent another incident, Padilla said, as government forces, backed by more than 30 assault aircraft, continue to advance toward the remaining positions of the militants, 89 of whom have been killed in the intense fighting with several others surrendering and now providing intelligence to the military. At least 25 soldiers and five policemen have been killed in clashes.