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Philippine military mistakenly kills own soldiers

Philippine military mistakenly kills own soldiers”

President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday that the ongoing rebellion in Marawi is not the work of rebels; rather, it is part of a larger ISIS plot.

Representative Gary Alejano, a former marine captain, urged the government to "reconsider airstrikes and bombing runs and artillery bombardments in built-up areas, as it will cause tremendous damage to the properties of the people of Marawi".

Ten Philippine soldiers were killed after fighter jet hit its own troops during efforts to drive out ISIL fighters from Marawi City, the defence minister said on Thursday.

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

The errant bombing was one of several airstrikes the military conducted Wednesday as troops on the ground tried to dislodge the militants.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said 500 extremists fought in the city and that they had a "big plan" to occupy it.

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About 50 to 100 militants were putting up the strongest stand in buildings across a bridge from Marawi's city hall, where hundreds of reinforcement troops were deployed.

Military spokesmen said fighting alongside the militants are prisoners they freed from the city's two jails last week and an unknown number of foreign fighters.

The capture or killing of Hapilon would be a much-needed public relations boost for the military as the Maute fighters capitalise on the publicity from their defiant stand.

"They are weak", Gen. Eduardo Ano, the military chief of staff, said of the gunmen, speaking at a hospital where injured soldiers were being treated.

Although the government earlier said there is no ISIS presence in the country, Duterte on May 26 admitted, "You can say that the ISIS is here already".

Philippine officials claim that militants have killed 19 civilians in the crossfire, while insisting the military has not mistakenly killed any civilians. Marawi is regarded as the heartland of the Islamic faith on Mindanao island.

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"This is what our religion Islam tells us, please, release him now, immediately", he said on television.

He said the siege "will actually become more of a template and motivation for other terrorist organizations who believe they can actually take on government forces".

However Padilla warned of more intense battles ahead, with the military believing three of the militants' main leaders were likely still in the city.

Most of the civilians have left Marawi, while about 2,000 remain trapped.

Amid the squalor and lack of privacy, Naima Dimangadap wept.

Okie Rasul, a fruit vendor and mother of eight, blamed the militants for the uncertainties her family now faces.

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"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. "The only things we saved are the clothes we're wearing, but at least we're all alive".



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