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GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines – The police in the Soccsksargen region have created a special team of investigators to look into the bus explosion at a terminal in Isulan town in Sultan Kudarat which authorities said was another bomb attack.
Isulan town police chief Lieutenant Colonel Richelu Alucilja said at least three “persons of interest” have been identified and believed to be the key in the investigation into the noontime explosion that hurt at least seven people, including three minors and two elderly people, inside the double decker on Monday, April 17.
Alucilja told Rappler on Tuesday, April 18, that investigators found a second improvised explosive device (IED) on the upper deck of the bus.
He said, “An unexploded IED was discovered by a bomb disposal team who combed the bus after the explosion.”
It was subsequently detonated by bomb experts, he said.
Brigadier General Jimili Macaraeg, Soccsksargen’s police director, created a special investigation task group to work on solving the case and bringing the attackers to justice.
Quoting Sultan Kudarat police assistant director for operations Lieutenant Colonel Lino Capellan, the Mindanao-based online news site Mindanews reported that the local police intelligence community received information earlier about a supposed plan to carry out a bomb attack in the province.
The bus, driven by David Solitorio and with license plate NCD-4383, was on a scheduled trip from Cotabato City to General Santos City when one of the crude bombs exploded.
Husky Bus manager Alex Dollente said the bus dropped travelers off at the terminal in Barangay Kalawag and was waiting for more passengers at that time.
Police said seven of the passengers suffered mostly leg injuries and had to be rushed to the Sultan Kudarat Provincial Hospital after the crude bomb placed in the lower level of the two-deck bus went off.
The bus’ owner, Husky Multi-Purpose Cooperative, released this public statement on its social media page following the bombing: “We will persevere in this trial, and with God’s will, we shall be victorious.”
The cooperative added, “Husky has a mission to provide safe, affordable, efficient, quality, sustainable and integrated transport systems to enhance economic, investment, social and tourism activities in our area of operation as Husky Coop contributes to peace and development in the region.”
The latest bomb attack was widely perceived to be the handiwork of a group of extortionists, but the cooperative declined to comment on that.
In November 2022, an explosion inside a moving bus in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat, killed one person and injured about a dozen other passengers.
The bus operator, Yellow Bus Lines Incorporated, had received extortion demands from suspected members of the Dawlah Islamiyah, police said. – Rappler.com