Boy dead, 6 hurtin Cotabato blast
ALEOSAN, Cotabato, Philippines — A 5-year-old boy died while six others were wounded when an improvised bomb exploded inside a passenger bus in this town on Tuesday morning, police said.
The boy, Benjamin Solaiman, died while being treated for shrapnel wounds at Cotabato Regional Medical Center in Cotabato City.
He was on board the Mindanao Star bus with his father, Hairon Solaiman, 24, and two brothers—a 3-year-old and a 5-month-old—when the blast occurred at Barangay San Mateo here at 8:15 a.m.
Hairon, in a radio interview in Cotabato City, said the remains of his son would be taken to their hometown in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.
Hairon, his two sons and three others were wounded in the blast that police traced to an improvised explosive device (IED).Alex Sandig, 40, one of the passengers, said the explosion was so powerful that it almost overturned the bus, which came from Davao City and was on its way to Cotabato City.
“It lifted the rear part of the bus after the explosion, all the windows were shattered,” he said in Filipino.
Noel Epanto, Aleosan municipal disaster risk reduction and management officer, identified the other injured passengers as Masid Piang, 25; Rodolfo Castillon, 67; and Lester Bautista, 18. They were taken to the Aleosan district hospital.
No one has, so far, claimed responsibility for the attack which came two days after the police imposed stricter checkpoint operations for the implementation of the election gun ban.
Cotabato Gov. Nancy Catamco condemned the bomb attack and directed Police Col. Henry Villar, provincial police director, to conduct a deeper investigation to identify and arrest the culprits.
Villar said experts have gathered pieces of evidence from the blast site to come up with a profile of the IED.
The management of Mindanao Star had yet to issue a statement on the bombing incident on Tuesday.
The bus line used to be Weena Express, which was established in the 1980s and had to grapple with a series of bombing attacks due to unmet extortion demands. The company was eventually sold to the Yanson Group in 2015.
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