Another attempt to bomb bus in southern Mindanao foiled
COTABATO CITY, Philippines – Government security forces on Thursday foiled anew another attempt to set off a bomb in Tacurong City with the discovery of an improvised explosive device in a packed passenger bus and arrested three suspects, an Army official said.
Col. Melquiades Feliciano, commander of the Army’s 601st Infantry Brigade, said soldiers manning a checkpoint in Barrio Dos were inspecting an Isulan-bound unit of the Yellow Bus Line around 10:50 a.m. when they discovered the bomb.
He said the bomb was made of two 60-millimeter mortar shells fitted with a mobile phone as trigger mechanism.
Feliciano said three suspects were immediately arrested and were being interrogated, as of Thursday afternoon. He declined to identify any of the suspects.
After securing the safety of all passengers on board, the 33rd Explosive and Ordnance Disposal Team of the military brought the IED outside, placed it on a safe portion by the roadside and disrupted it, Feliciano said.
He said investigators believed the attempt was the work of extortionists, who have been preying on passenger bus companies plying Central Mindanao.
Elmer Sayson, a passenger, told a local radio station that all the passengers rushed out of the bus door when the soldiers calmly told them about the bomb.
“Many were slightly injured,” Sayson said, adding that among those hurt were women and children.
On Wednesday dawn, a powerful IED exploded inside the compound of the Central Mindanao office of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) in Midsayap, North Cotabato.
Another IED was also found in the same compound following the 5 a.m. blast, according to Supt. Reynante delos Santos, the town’s police chief.
Delos Santos said no one was injured in the bomb attack, which occurred a day before the 37th foundation day anniversary of NIA.
He said bomb experts, who were investigating the bombing, also discovered and safely defused the second IED planted in front of the Commission on Audit (COA) office – also inside the NIA compound in Barangay Villarica here.
NIA Central Mindanao director Ali Satol expressed his belief that the bomb was meant to harm as many people as possible.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer learned that the COA was conducting an audit of the finances of the regional NIA office.
Delos Santos said the police were also trying to determine the composition of the IEDs.
Wednesday’s bomb explosion was the second to take place inside the NIA office here in recent years.
In October 2003, a grenade attack on a mosque at the NIA compound killed then NIA regional director Makmod Mending Sr. and three others and injured over 12 people.
The grenade attack had not been resolved to this day although there was an earlier finding that it could have been motivated by “an internal struggle” within the agency.
On Maundy Thursday, police authorities in Cotabato City also foiled an attempt by unidentified men to set off an explosive there following the recovery of an improvised bomb and a grenade in front of the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center and the Al-Nor Convention Center, both along Sinsuat Avenue.
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