5 hurt in bus blast in Sultan KudaratBy Edwin O. Fernandez
COTABATO CITY, Philippines – At least five persons were hurt when an improvised explosive device planted at the baggage compartment of a passenger bus went off at 6 p.m. in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat, on Saturday, authorities said.
Senior Supt. Rolen Balquin, Sultan Kudarat police provincial director, said the blast occurred around 6 p.m. during the holiday rush near Isulan’s Welcome Rotonda.
Balquin said the Husky bus, loaded with holiday vacationers, was heading toward General Santos City from Cotabato City.
The identities of the victims were not available as of posting time.
Analiza Servando, a resident of Koronadal City and passenger of Husky bus, said the blast shook the bus.
“It was deafening and broken window glass flew all over,” Servando, who escaped unhurt, told the Inquirer by phone.
Mayor Diosdado Pallasigue of Isulan, said another bus of Yellow Bus Co., which was behind the Husky bus, was also damaged.
“We suspect it was an improvised bomb,” Balquin said.
Pallasigue said the blast was so powerful that it destroyed almost one-fourth of the Husky bus.
Two of the wounded passengers were from Husky bus while the three others from Yellow bus, which was also heading toward General Santos City from Isulan.
No one has claimed responsibility but police believed it was the handiwork of extortion gangs, which have been mulcting bus firms.
Many commuters were rushing home for the New Year’s celebration Tuesday.
The attack came despite tightened security due to twin bomb and grenade attacks in nearby Tacurong City.
On Wednesday night, three persons were hurt when an improvised bomb left at a roadside went off about 10 p.m.
It was followed by grenade attack into the Tacurong City house of Mayor Emilio Salamanca of President Quirino, Sultan Kudarat.