Thursday, March 30, 2006

Cops Release Sketch Of Digos' Bomber, Witness Tells His Tales

WANTED: Police sketch of the alleged bomber of Weena bus in Digos City in Davao del Sur province. Authorities have offered as much as P100,000 bounty for his capture.

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Zamboanga Journal / 30 Mar) Police have released Thursday the sketch of a man believed behind the bombing of a passenger bus in Digos City in the southern Philippines that as many as 17 people wounded.

Authorities also offered P100,000 bounty for the man's capture, but officials would not say whether the bomber was a member of the outlawed New People's Army (NPA) or the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, blamed for the spate of bombings in the southern Philippines.

But police suggested the man could be a member of the shadowy extortion syndicate called Urban Tiger Action Group, which earlier tried, but failed to collect illegal taxes from the Weena Bus Transit.

The sketch showed on television was based on witnesses' descriptions of the supposed bomber, police said.

Police and military said a homemade bomb exploded Wednesday inside one of Weena's bus at the city's bus depot. A military report said the bomb was probably made from ammonium nitrate, a banned fertilizer commonly used by insurgents to make homemade explosives. Several buses were also damaged from the explosion.

Investigators said they found traces of the chemical explosive at the rear of the bus, where the bomb was believed planted.

One witness sent his account Thursday to the online news blog Zamboanga Journal at and detailed what he saw: "I live adjacent to the terminal. The blast occurred at quarter to 12 and I was going outside when suddenly, I and my mother who were in the kitchen preparing lunch, heard a loud sound, the land also vibrated. I said to my mother maybe it was the tires, but she disagreed with me," said Rex J.L.

"We then rushed to the terminal. I saw the bus smoking, and it was moving backwards with all its window glasses broken and scattered all around. I can't help but I shouted "ma bomba, ma ang bus", (ma, a bomb, ma, the bus), my mother was beside me also in shock and shouting."

"People in the terminal were pleading, running as fast as they can. My aunt who was in her store, kept on screaming and shouting at us and crying. Fortunately, we have a phone so I hurried up and called the police; my mother followed me and called the provincial hospital where she is working, she asked them to prepare for an emergency," he said.

"The hospital called us back to ask if how severe the situation, but my mother didn't know the extent of the incident. We then returned to the bus terminal, by that time people were now flooding towards the area. I saw one man searching the bus, after 5 minutes the police came, followed by an ABS-CBN television news crew, then the fire department with ambulances."

He said the injured were immediately brought to the hospital. : As what I assessed the tail part of the bus received the biggest hit; a part of the engine was cut and the buses nearby were also damaged from the powerful explosion, all sides were much damaged and the roof of the bus terminal was also damaged a bit."

"According to the vendors, the bus was not fully packed because the passengers and the crew were outside eating lunch and some went to the restrooms. Just a few seconds when the bus arrived, the bomb exploded. The vibrations and sound of the explosion was heard almost a kilometer away. Many called us and asking about the loud sound and were shocked to know that it was a bomb explosion."

"My mother called the hospital again where my father is also working and he said that they admitted 17 injured persons, whose injuries were caused by flying broken window glasses and other debris. When I first saw it, I can't believe it -- I am seeing what other people have seen in their life. I was trembling. Thank God that no one died, the whole situation was like a movie scene," he said.

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