5 hurt in Maguindanao bus bombing

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/3 March) ¬– Five people were hurt when a bomb exploded along the highway in Maguindanao, hitting a passenger bus. Three of the wounded were members of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU), police said.

Hours later, fear gripped this city as a car supposedly laden with bomb was left in front of the terminal of the Yellow Bus Line, Inc., which suffered several bomb attacks in the past years.

Local bomb demolition experts discovered no bomb components inside the car. It was reportedly left by the owner without notifying the security guard, who alarmed authorities about suspicious wirings inside the vehicle. The incident caused a temporary traffic rerouting along a portion of the main General Santos Avenue here.

In the Maguindanao incident, Senior Supt. Marcelo Pintac, provincial police director, said the still unknown explosive device hit the back portion of the bus owned by Grand Transport Corp.

“The bomb exploded along the highway and it was unfortunate the bus passed at the wrong time,” he said.

Pintac did not say if the bomb was intended for the bus, noting that authorities were still conducting an investigation.

He likewise withheld possible motives for the bomb explosion and the group behind it pending the results of the investigation.

But in the past, other bus companies have also been attacked, resulting in deaths and injuries, which authorities blamed on the extortion group called the Al Khobar gang.

In October last year, a bomb exploded inside the Rural Transit bus while cruising towards Tacurong City from Cagayan de Oro City. At least nine people died and more than two dozens were injured by the explosion.

Pintac said the victims in this morning’s explosion mostly suffered injuries below the waist and that they were brought to local hospitals for treatment.

The bus was on the way to Davao City from Tacurong City in Sultan Kudarat when the explosion took place around 6 a.m., said the police official.

Pintac said the bomb exploded in Pandag town’s Barangay Kayaga, the boundary with the municipality of Datu Paglas.

A certain Regie Magbanua, one of the bus passengers, told a local radio station the explosion occurred near a military detachment in the area.

The bus driver did not stop after the explosion but proceeded to the military detachment 200 meters away, he said.

The bomb explosion happened as Maguindanao province remains under a state of emergency, which was imposed following the November 23, 2009 massacre in Ampatuan town that killed 58 people, 32 of them media workers.

The Ampatuan massacre was the worst election-related political killing in the country and the largest deadly single attack against media workers anywhere else.

Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu had sent female clan members to file his certificate of candidacy when the grisly crime was committed. The slain media workers were there to cover the filing.

Several members of the then politically powerful Ampatuan clan were blamed for the massacre, which include former Maguindanao governor Andal S. Ampatuan Sr., and his sons Andal U. Ampatuan Jr., former mayor of Datu Unsay town, and Zaldy U. Ampatuan, suspended governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)