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Philippine airstrike kills 11 soldiers in Marawi friendly fire

By Andrew V. Pestano
Philippine security forces advance their position inside a conflict area as fighting between Islamist militants and the government continues in Marawi City, Mindanao Island, southern Philippines, on Thursday. Photo by Francis R. Malasig/EPA
Philippine security forces advance their position inside a conflict area as fighting between Islamist militants and the government continues in Marawi City, Mindanao Island, southern Philippines, on Thursday. Photo by Francis R. Malasig/EPA

June 1 (UPI) -- The Philippine military on Thursday said airstrikes targeting Islamist militants in the Marawi City conflict also killed 11 soldiers.

Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the airstrikes on Wednesday injured seven other soldiers. Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said "a group of our military armed men were hit by our own airstrikes."

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"It's sad but sometimes it happens in the fog of war. The coordination was not properly done," Lorenzana said.

Philippine security forces have been fighting militants loyal to the Islamic State since May 23 in Marawi. The conflict began after security forces attempted to capture top militant leader Isnilon Hapilon, who is considered as the Islamic State's leader in the Philippines. Hapilon is wanted by U.S. law enforcement, but dozens of militants took to the streets to defend him and rampaged through Marawi.

Most of Marawi's 200,000 residents have fled, but about 2,000 civilians were trapped in militant-held areas, the Marawi local government said.

At least 89 Islamist militants, 31 security forces and 19 civilians have been killed in the conflict, the Philippine military said Wednesday.

The Philippine military this week said it regained control of most of Marawi from militants in fighting that has driven residents from the city. President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law last week on the southern island of Mindanao, where Marawi is located, after the conflict erupted.

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On Wednesday, the Philippine military said it is analyzing a video purportedly showing a Roman Catholic priest captured by the militants.

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