Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in press conference in Malacanang Thursday noon that ten military men were killed and seven others were wounded on the ground in friendly-fire airstrike from the military’s Marchetti-made aircraft on Wednesday in Marawi City.
But in separate press conference of AFP spokesperson B/Gen. Resty Padilla, he said that in latest report there were 11 soldiers killed 7 soldiers injured.
The clash between government troopers and ISIS-linked Maute terrorists entered on 10th day on Thursday.
“We are still investigating on the accident but sometimes mistakes happen and we have to be sure that next time it won’t happen again,” Lorenzana said.
He said that the first aircraft hit its target but when the second aircraft in tandem dropped its ordinary non-precision-guided ordinance and landed about 100 meters from the target, it hit instead the operating troops on the ground.
He added the mistake might either be from those on the ground or those in the air.
“It’s painful to us,” the secretary said, adding that the incident is first time to happen in the military.
“It would depend on the outcome of the investigation, but sometimes in the fog of war, a lot of things happen, and we might charge it to bad experience,” he replied to a media question about bringing those who erred to court martial.
The airstrike against remaining Maute terrorists still holding out in heavily fortified positions, if it would still continue or not, would be dependent on the decision of the military commander on the ground, he added.
The defense secretary bared a new enemy figure in Marawi City, around “500 fighters”, some 100 of whom are from Basilan brought by Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, and “close to 100 (of whom) were already killed.”
Of the about 100 terrorists killed, only 32 have identities, eight of whom are foreigners (2 Malaysians, 2 Indonesians, 2 Saudis, 1 Yemini and 1 Chechen).
“It is safe to say that there are still 50 to 100 holding out… There are still some holding out there, while there are some who are already going to towns around Lake Lanao,” Lorenzana told Malacanang reporters.
“There is only a small pocket of resistance left,” he said, though Lorenzana could not yet say whether the military could accomplish the deadline set to end the siege on Friday.
Meanwhile, B/Gen. Padilla in his separate press conference at AFP Headquarters in Quezon City bared there were 11 killed and 7 injured soldiers by the air attack.
He said that AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año had already created a Board of Inquiry to probe on the mistaken air attack.
He added that the involved SF 260 aircraft fired successfully three bombs but the 4th drop accidentally hit the operating soldiers. (mindanaosunchronicle.com/Cha Monforte)