Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bus ambushed in Zamboanga City, 12 injured

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / January 17, 2010) – Gunmen ambushed a passenger bus in Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines and wounded at least a dozen people, officials said Sunday.

The attack occurred at around 9 p.m. on Saturday in the village of Licomo, 85 kilometers east of Zamboanga City, said Marine Lieutenant General Benjamin Dolorfino, the regional military chief.

He said the bus, owned by Rural Transit, was enroute to Pagadian City in Zamboanga del Sur province, when it was strafed by gunmen believed to be extortionists.

“Police and military are investigating the attack. We have reports the attackers were extortionists,” Dolorfino said.

He said the wounded passengers were rushed to hospital in the town of Ipil in Zamboanga Sibugay province.

No group or individual claimed responsibility for the ambush, but troops were tracking down Sunday those behind the attack, said Army Colonel Santiago Baluyot, commander of a local anti-terror task force.

He said 12 passengers, including a doctor, Maita Blanco, was injured in the attack. Baluyot’s group rushed to the village of Licomo, but did not catch up with the ambushers.

“We have troops working closely with the police and there is an operation to track down the ambushers,” Baluyot said.

Military intelligence reports said the attack was carried out by Moro rebels led by Yacub Ilong, whose group was also behind the spate of attacks and highway robberies and extortion activities in Zamboanga Sibugay province.

In May 2000, dozens of Moro rebels also raided the village of Licomo killing at least four civilians. They also held up several buses and abducted passengers in the past in Licomo.

A large portion of Zamboanga City’s Maria Clara Lobregat highway is without any street lights making it extremely dangerous for motorists to travel at night to Zamboanga Sibugay. (Mindanao Examiner)

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