Female bomber eyed in Tacurong bus blast
ZAMBOANGA CITY—Authorities are eyeing a female bomber to have blasted the bus in Tacurong City on Sunday, killing a 56-year-old male passenger and wounding 11 others, including a 5-year-old child, in Purok Duranta, Barangay Poblacion of the city in Sultan Kudarat.
Maj. Gen. Arturo Rojas, acting chief of the Western Mindanao Command, said they already found a lead to the case, including one of the four female passengers who boarded the bus in M’lang area and alighted at the bus stop near the Iglesia ni Cristo Church in Tacurong City.
“While we already have a lead to the possible perpetrators, we will continue our investigation to accurately identify and pursue these heartless attackers,” Rojas said. “We will not stop hunting them down. We will continue to intensify our internal security efforts to counter similar incidents that put the lives of innocent civilians in danger,” Rojas said.
In Kidapawan City, police identified the lone fatality as Gilbert Barbosa Panes, 56, a resident of Balindog, Kidapawan City. His son Mark Garbosa said his father was reluctant to travel on Sunday but proceeded with his trip anyway.
Rojas said the information of the four female passengers was provided by the Yellow Bus Line (YBL) driver and bus conductor. “One of them is seen as the culprit,” he said.
Rojas also identified the explosive used as a cellular phone command-detonated type for improvised explosive device (IED). “Based on [our] intelligence reports, this type of IED is a signature of Dawlah Islamiya Hassan Group (DIHG),” Rojas said.
He also explained that the use of female bombers was nothing new. It had been the “same modus in the past,” he said, when [groups] used close female relatives like wife and children to board the bus,” citing the Davao YBL bombing in 2021 and the Tulunan bombing in January 2021.Rojas also saw extortion as the primary motive in the bus bombing. “Prior to the explosion, the YBL received extortion call. [The caller] threatened the company that they’d put IED in one of the buses if they failed to give in to their demand,” Rojas said. He said such activity had been a handiwork of the Dawlah Islamiyah led by Almoben Sebod, a subleader of DIHG and suspect in the previous YBL bombings.
In the Soccsksargen region, police has formed a Special Investigation Task Group (SITG)-Yellow Bus to fast-track the investigation of the bombing on Sunday and give justice to the victims.
Brig. Gen. Jimili Macaraeg, Soccsksargen police regional director, designated PRO-12 deputy director for operations Col. Rogelio Raymundo Jr., to head the task group.
“It’s very unfortunate and it saddens us greatly that this incident happened,” Macaraeg said. “We have created SITG so that we can solve the case and possibly arrest the suspect faster.”
He said the police already had persons of interest but could not yet divulge their identities.
“We would like to assure the public that this is an isolated incident and that the security sector is on top of the situation. There is no reason to panic,” he added.
Mayor Joseph George Lechonsito of Tacurong condemned the attack. “This is an act of malicious intent,” he said. INQ
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