8 killed in Cotabato bus blast

AT LEAST eight people were killed and eight others were hurt when an improvised bomb went off inside a passenger bus in North Cotabato yesterday morning.

Initial reports reaching Camp Aguinaldo said the explosion took place at 10:33 a.m. on a national road in Brgy. Dalapitan in Matalam town, North Cotabato.

Lt. Col. Benjamin Hao, spokesman of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (ID), said the Rural Transit bus driven by Arlan Tadio and with more than 60 passengers was heading to Tacurong City from Cagayan de Oro City when the explosion took place.

“One of the dead was identified as Brian Galagas, bus conductor, and all the fatalities were killed on the spot. The wounded passengers were immediately brought to the nearest hospital for treatment,” Hao said in a phone interview.

Aside from Galagas, Maj. Randolph Cabangbang, spokesman of the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom), reported that the other fatalities were:  Romil Espanola, Tanting Usop Dalida, Lita Mansano, Slornie Belong, Adam Guimid, Guaria Duad and Camino Abson.

The Army official said that based on initial investigation, the explosion was caused by an improvised explosive device (IED) that was placed by still unknown suspects at the bus’s baggage compartment.

Hao added that a bomb disposal team and members of the local scene of the crime operatives (Soco) has started conducting a post-blast investigation. The area is now being secured by troops from the 6th ID.

No group has yet to claim responsibility for the explosion, but previous incidents were blamed to the Abu Sofia group, a gang of extortionists and bandits that are known to operate and prey on bus companies in the area. Anthony Vargas


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