Bus bombing kills one, wounds 10 in Tacurong
COTABATO CITY—A passenger was killed and at least 10 others were wounded after a bomb exploded inside a passenger bus in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat, on Sunday noon, police said.
The suspected improvised explosive device (IED) went off at 11:45 a.m. as the Yellow Bus Line (YBL) vehicle carrying more than 30 passengers approached the Tacurong City Integrated Transport Terminal in Barangay New Isabela.
“No one has claimed responsibility (for the bombing), we are still investigating,” said Sultan Kudarat police provincial director Col. Christopher Bermudez.
Army 6th Infantry Division chief Maj. Gen. Rey Galido told reporters that they were working with the police to do counteraction on possible suspects.
He noted that they were always reminding YBL to strengthen its security measures and avoid getting passengers outside the designated pickup points.
“We have constantly reminded them to follow strictly their policy. It’s part of their policy to pick up passengers only on defined pickup points for the inspection,” he pointed out.
Bermudez said the blast occurred at the rear portion of the bus that was heading for Koronadal City, South Cotabato, and had a stopover in Tacurong City.
A male passenger died on the spot while six women and four males, three of them minors, were hurt in the blast and were rushed to the nearby St. Louis Hospital less than 400 meters away. The police have yet to release the names of the victims.
“(There was a) very loud explosion, (it was) deafening; then I heard children crying and yelling for help,” one of the passengers said in the vernacular during a radio interview.
Bermudez said the police were still trying to determine the identities of the attackers and their motive.
“But obviously, it was meant to harm or kill people,” he said. “We are looking at extortion as a possible motive, but we are still digging deeper.”
But Bernard Bolanio, operations manager of YBL, said: “We have no extortion demand, we do not have threats from any group.”
He also said, however, that several of the firm’s vehicles, plying the Davao-General Santos-Koronadal-Tacurong-Kidapawan route, were targeted by bomb attacks and arson in the past.
On Friday night, police suspected that a YBL bus with body No. 0288 which got burned in Tupi, South Cotabato, must have been torched.
The Tupi police reported that the vehicle suddenly caught fire while heading toward General Santos City. All the passengers managed to alight from the bus before the fire razed it down.
Series of attacks
Three YBL buses were targeted by suspected bombers earlier this year. Of the three, two vehicles which originated in Kidapawan City were spared after IEDs placed in their compartments failed to explode.
On May 26, an IED went off inside a YBL bus moving along Gensan Drive in Koronadal City at noon that day.
READ: DOTr orders transport operators to tighten security after Mindanao blasts
Brig. Gen. Eduardo Gubat, then acting commander of the Joint-Task Force Central, blamed the attack on the Dawlah Islamiyah Mindanao, which he said conducted diversionary tactics after a series of military operations against them in Liguasan Marsh in southern Mindanao spanning the provinces of Cotabato, Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat.
Of the four bus firms plying the General Santos City-Koronadal-Tacurong route, namely the Mindanao Star, YBL, Husky Bus and Rural Transit, it was only YBL that regularly experienced bombing and arson in the past two years.
Police have also suspected the Bangsamoto Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a local terror group known for setting off IEDs on civilians.
The latest bombing came a day after a soldier and five BIFF members were killed in clashes in Maguindanao.
—WITH A REPORT FROM FRANCES MANGOSING INQ
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