Extortion eyed in Sultan Kudarat bus bombing

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COTABATO CITY, Philippines — Police and military authorities said extortion was the likely motive behind the bombing of a passenger bus in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat on Saturday night that left six persons wounded.

Col. Prudencio Asto, spokesperson of the military’s 6th Infantry Division, said the Husky Bus which is plying the Cotabato City-Gen. Santos City route had been receiving demand letters from extortion gangs.

The police in Sultan Kudarat also said that bandits had been asking “protection money” from the management of Husky Bus. The demand was repeatedly ignored.

As the Husky bus was in transit near the Isulan welcome rotonda, a power explosion ripped through its rear portion. A Yellow Bus unit immediately following the Husky bus was also hit by shrapnel and shattered its windshield.

Senior Supt. Rolen Balquin, Sultan Kudarat police chief, said after the blast the Husky bus was on fire, which was quickly put off by responding firemen.

Asto identified the wounded as Hapinat Hilmor Bornales, 36; Delfin Jonathan Salmoren, 23; Dolfo Kevin Venus, 19; Catequista Rachel Mayornejo, 27; Yellow bus driver Salutan Robenson Matias; and his conductor Sangki Emil Fantilaga.

Asto said the six sustained minor injuries.

An Army post-blast investigation showed that the IED was made of Ammonium Nitrate Fuel and Oil (ANFO) with cut nails as shrapnel.

Despite the bomb attack, Husky Bus firm continues plying the route as commuters rushing home for the New Year’s revelry.

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