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Friendly fire kills two soldiers in southern Philippines

AFP  |  Manila 

A Philippine military jet accidentally killed two soldiers and injured 11 others as troops fought to retake a southern city from pro-Islamic State group militants, the military said today.

The incident yesterday was the second time soldiers have been killed by their own air support since fighting began in Marawi city almost two months ago, military spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said.

The army called air strikes at midday against a building where militants were believed to be hiding, but one of four bombs dropped by an FA-50 fighter jet fell short, he told reporters.

"The bomb fell in an area proximate to a building where some of our men were staying and the ensuing blast caused part of that building to collapse," Padilla said.

"The debris that fell from the part of the collapsed structure fell on our men causing the death of two and injuries to 11 others."

The fighting has left 92 soldiers and police, 392 militants and 45 civilians dead in 52 days of fighting, Padilla said.

They included up to six civilians believed to have been killed by the militants and whose remains were discovered by troops at the city centre yesterday, the military said.

"They were civilians that were killed earlier during the start of the fight, executed by these terrorists," Padilla added.

However, an attempt to retrieve the remains was aborted today due to gunfire, local officials said.

The military estimates about one hundred surviving gunmen still control around a thousand houses and commercial buildings in downtown Marawi.

The fighting has forced nearly 400,000 residents of Marawi and surrounding towns and villages to flee, officials said.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte imposed martial law over the southern third of the after the fighting broke out in Marawi on May 23.

He said it was necessary to help the military eliminate an attempt by the gunmen to set up an IS province in the southern Philippines, home to decades-old armed rebellions by the large Muslim minority.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, July 13 2017. 16:32 IST