GenSan put under red alert after blast in Matalam

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/22 October) – Police authorities have placed the entire city under red alert following the deadly bomb attack on a passenger bus in North Cotabato on Thursday that killed 10 people and injured more than 20 others.

Senior Supt. Cedrick Train, city police director, said Thursday they have tightened their security operations in various public places in the city and transport terminals to prevent possible plans by terror groups to launch similar attacks in the area.

“We deployed additional personnel to secure our bus stations and other passenger terminals and dispatched our intelligence operatives to monitor the possible movements of these (terrorist) groups,” he said.

Train said he directed their personnel assigned at the terminals, including the Makar port and the city airport, to coordinate their movements with other security units or operatives and officials
supervising the concerned facilities.

On Thursday night, Train said he immediately ordered the deployment of bomb-sniffing K-9s at the city’s central public terminal in Bulaong to monitor the baggage and other belongings of the passengers.

He said they strictly imposed the mandatory inspection of all baggage and other belongings carried by passenger before they were allowed entry to the city terminal’s premises.

Aside from the mandatory baggage inspection, the police official directed drivers of all buses and other public utility vehicles plying the city to only pick up passengers at their assigned terminals.

Train said such move will limit the movements of suspected bombers, especially those who were targeting the PUVs as shown by the attack on Rural Transit’s passenger bus unit in Matalam, North Cotabato.

Police investigators said the explosion was caused by an improvised explosive device planted at the vehicle’s baggage compartment by several unidentified men who supposedly boarded the bus at the Matalam terminal but hastily left before the bomb went off.

To complement their security operations in the terminals and other public places, Train said he directed the city police’s eight station chiefs to increase police visibility within their assigned areas and maintain a round-the-clock security and intelligence monitoring through their checkpoints.

“I’m urging everybody to be vigilant since our security situation is considered in the critical stage right now because of the approaching Christmas season,” he said.

Meantime, Chief Supt. Gil Meneses, Region 12 police director, said he directed all police units in the region to remain vigilant for any possible terror attack following Thursday’s bomb explosion in North Cotabato.

He said in a statement that they are closely watching the ongoing developments in the area related with Monday’s Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.

Meneses said he specifically directed all provincial and city directors, including the group directors of the regional and provincial public safety management units, to “conduct checkpoints and exhaustive scrutiny of all passenger buses traversing the highways.” (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)