NORTH COTABATO –At least 10 people were killed and 30 others were wounded after an improvised explosive device (IED) blew up and damaged a passenger bus in Matalam, North Cotabato last Thursday.
Rural Transit Bus (TVR 480), with 50 passengers on board bound for Tacurong City from Cagayan de Oro City, was traversing a highway in Barangay Dalapitan, Matalam at about 10:45 when the bomb went off.
Eight persons died on-the-spot, including the bus conductor, while two others expired while being treated at a hospital.
Many those injured were in serious condition due to severe head injuries.
The fatalities were identified as Bryan Galagas, the bus conductor and resident of Datu Paglas, Maguindanao; Tanting Usop Dalidan, student of the University of Southern Mindanao and resident of Datu Paglas, Maguindanao; Rommel Espanola USM 3rd year student and residentof Barangay Bagontapay, M’lang; Lita Manzano of Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat; Noriela Akmad, 21, of Kabacan, North Cotabato; Marc Lester Feri, USM 3rd year Development Communications student, of Kabacan; Genevieve Sibonga, 37, of Pontevedra, Antipas; and Lolita Galido, 64, of BarangayTubog, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.
Two fatalities remained unidentified at the Torreda Funeral Homes.
Bryan Balmediano, in-charge of the Red Cross Youth Council of the Philippine Red Cross Kidapawan City sub-chapter, identified the wounded as Guinaid Adam, Gueria Daud, Flor Belong, Abson Camino, Anwar Guialo, Abner Garcisto, Julius Pasigua, Libungan, North Cotabato; Juvencio Estrada, 37, General Santos City; his wife Rosel Estrada; Christian Ben Tigullo, 19; Von Wilfred Angel, 16; Mary Joy Paca, Kabacan, North Cotabato; Arnold Mosquera; Christian Alabado; Charlie Adrias, 52; and Cherry Ann Adrias, 11.
They were taken to North Cotabato Provincial Hospital, Kidapawan Doctors Hospital and at M’lang Doctors Hospital in M’lang, North Cotabato.
Sr. Insp. Joyce Birrey, spokesperson of the North Cotabato Provincial Police, said the IED was placed at the third seat from the right side of the rear portion of the bus.
The bus driver said three unidentified men boarded the bus along the highway in Kabacan town. They alighted when the bus reached the Poblacion of Matalam town.
Minutes later, when the bus was heading towards Barangay Dalapitan, boundary of M’lang and Matalam towns, the IED went off.
Chief Supt. Felicisimo Khu, chief of the Director for Integrated Police Operations (DIPO) for Western Mindanao, said the IED was fashioned from a mortar cartridge and triggered by a mobile phone.
Khu, citing initial data gathered from the field, said the bombing was a terrorist act and was orchestrated by lawless Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members, two weeks after a top MILF official was arrested in Davao City.
“We ruled out extortion as among the motives in the blast when the bus management told us they have not received any extortion threat from any groups operating in Mindanao,” Khu said in an interview over Catholic-ran DXND.