NORTH COTABATO, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 21, 2010) – At least 7 people were killed and more than a dozen injured after a bomb explosion Thursday ripped through a passenger bus in the restive region of Mindanao, south of the Philippines, the military said.
The blast occurred at around 10:30 in the morning as the bus was passing the village of Dalapitan in North Cotabato’s Matalam town. “We have deployed troops in the area to secure public places and assist in the evacuation of the wounded,” Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Hao, a spokesman for the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, told the Mindanao Examiner.
He said initial reports claimed that at least 7 passengers had died and many wounded from the explosion. “We still don’t know who was behind this attack, but we condemned this act of terrorism,” Hao said.
The bomb apparently went off from the baggage compartment of the bus, owned by Rural Transit of Mindanao. The bus was heading to Cagayan del Oro city from Tacurong, a city in Sultan Kudarat province.
No individual or group claimed responsibility for the attack, but rebel groups are actively operating in North Cotabato and in nearby provinces of Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato and Maguindanao.
Hao said authorities are investigating the explosion.
In August, armed men disguised as policemen also torched a bus owned by Rural Transit after killing its driver and two of-duty police officers at a road block in Lanao del Norte’s Kapatagan town. Several bomb attacks on provincial buses, blamed to rebels extorting money, also occurred in recent years in Mindanao. (With reports from Mark Navales, Geo Solmerano and Becky de Asis)