Marawi airstrikes to continue despite accident

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 13) — Airstrikes will continue to target Maute strongholds in Marawi, despite a mishap that killed two soldiers, the military said on Thursday.

Task Force Ranao Commander Brigadier General Ramiro Rey said that if the commander on the ground sees the need for an airstrike, the government troops will carry out the offensive.

"The airstrike is the decision of the ground commander per recommendation from the ground troops," Rey said in a news briefing.

"At kung nakita nila na 'yun dapat ay ta-target ng airstrike [And if they saw that it's the airstrike's target], then the commander will decide," he said.

Two soldiers were killed in a botched air assault on Wednesday. AFP Spokesperson B/Gen Restituto Padilla told CNN Philippines one bomb "fell short of target," missing its target by 200 meters.

The debris from the building, not the bomb, killed the two troops and wounded 11 soldiers, Padilla said.

"That building where our soldiers were hiding, absorbed the shock of the bomb that exploded and caused a lot of debris to fall. The debris that fall caused the death of two of our soldiers unfortunately, and the wounding of 11 others. The good thing there however is that the wounded were not critically injured," he said.

 

The Armed Forces said this "airstrike accident" was the first time the FA-50 missed its target.

Padilla said the aircraft, which is used to carry bigger bombs and equipped for close-air-support to ground troops, will be temporarily pulled out from their operation. The pilot will also be investigated.

Padilla said airstrikes are "part and parcel of tools" used by the military to defeat the ISIS-linked Maute group.

Joint Task Force Marawi Spokesperson Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera said the airstrike accident will be investigated by the military.

This is the second time government troops were hit by mistake by its own airstrikes in the 52-day Marawi crisis.

On May 31, 10 soldiers were killed and seven other troops were wounded. Two light military aircraft trainer SF-260TP jets were positioned to strike, but the second one failed to hit its target and struck members of the 55th Infantry Battalion instead, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.

The Board of Inquiry is still carrying out its investigation.

The military is now focusing its operations on flushing 80 Maute fighters believed to be holding out in some four barangays in Marawi City, Padilla said.

He added that two of these barangays were considered the terror group's centers of "command and control" and were harder to penetrate. They also have over 600 buildings to clear.