Thursday Jan, 20 2022 12:07:33 AM

Police, Army still probing on North Cotabato bus bombing

Mindanao Armed Conflict • 16:15 PM Thu Jan 13, 2022
John M. Unson
The bombed out unit of the Mindanao Star Bus. (From Aleosan Municipal Police Station) 

ALEOSAN, North Cotabato --- The police and military are still trying to identify the persons behind Tuesday’s bombing of a passenger bus here that left a child dead and hurt six others.

The management of the Mindanao Star Bus, operating in the Cotabato-Davao route that straddles North Cotabato, Maguindanao and Davao del Sur provinces, said it has not received any extortion demand from any group.

Members of different municipal peace and order councils in Maguindanao and North Cotabato said Thursday they are convinced that either the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, or a sub-group, the Al-Khobar, could have pulled off the bomb attack to compel the bus company to shell out “protection money” on monthly basis.

Intelligence agents of the North Cotabato provincial police, the Aleosan municipal police and the Army’s 34th Infantry Battalion are now reviewing security camera recordings from a terminal where the bus last had a stopover before an improvised explosive device went off in its rear deck while its driver was maneuvering through a stretch of the Cotabato-Davao Highway in Barangay San Mateo here.

The bus was en route to Cotabato City from Davao City and had a brief stopover in Pikit, North Cotabato, which is near the Liguasan Delta, a known haven of the BIFF and the Dawlah Islamiya.

One of the seven passengers injured in the blast, a five-year-old Maguindanaon boy, died in a hospital

Brig. Gen. Alexander Tagum, director of the Police Regional Office-12, said Thursday corresponding criminal cases shall immediately be filed against the culprits once identified

“Our investigators need enough time to identify them,” Tagum said.

Six other bus passengers --- a three-year-old child, a five-month-old infant, and the adults Rodolfo Castillo, 67, Lester Bautista, 17, Haron Solaiman, Sr., 24, and the 25-year-old Masid Benjamin --- sustained shrapnel wounds in different parts of their bodies.

Major Gen. Juvymax Uy, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said intelligence agents of the 34th IB and the 602nd Infantry Brigade are helping the police identify the bombers.

The Al-Khobar bombed last year a unit of the Yellow Bus Line in Tulunan town in North Cotabato and set on fire another in separate attacks in province. 


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