Cotabato City

Police say extortionists tried to bomb bus terminal in Cotabato

Rommel Rebollido

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Police say extortionists tried to bomb bus terminal in Cotabato

SULTAN KUDARAT BLAST. Police stand on guard near a bus following a an explosion in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat, on April 17, 2023.

PNP-Sultan Kudarat

The police say an anonymous caller threatened to send a bus company a 'present' before the foiled bombing

GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines – Police investigators said a group of extortionists was behind a foiled bomb attempt at a privately owned bus terminal and garage ahead of the opening of the 4th Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Athletic Association Meet in Cotabato City on Thursday, May 25.

Authorities cited a threat received by the management of the public transport company Husky Bus before the crude bombs were found in the terminal.

According to the police, the threat was made by an anonymous caller who said, “May regalo kami sa inyo, antayin niyo lang (We have a present for you, just wait for it).”

Major John Vincent Bravo, the chief of the Cotabato City Police Station 2, said a bomb disposal team found the explosives in packages and then detonated them in a safe area.

It was the bus company’s security personnel who first spotted the packages at around 3 am in the facility, and called for police help. The garage is easily accessible because it also serves as a bus terminal along the highway in the Malagapas area. 

Bravo said that one of the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) had flash powder placed inside a plastic container that was attached to a nine-volt battery. 

He said it also contained a blasting cap, metal shards, and a cellular phone as a triggering device. 

Police said the other two explosives were made of rocket-propelled grenade projectiles wrapped in a black eco-bag that was connected to another nine-volt battery, a blasting cap, and a cellphone as a triggering device.

Cotabato City police chief Colonel Querubin Manalang said CCTV footage showed two still unidentified men leaving the packages. 

Manalang said the police were currently enhancing the images in hopes of identifying the two suspects.

He said the IEDs would have caused extensive damage based on the components used by the suspects.

The incident happened shortly hours before the start of the regional BARMMAA competitions being participated in by hundreds of campus athletes, their coaches, and school officials all over the special Muslim-majority region.

Initially, police speculated that the crude bombs were merely intended to scare people ahead of the regional games.

Husky Bus previously had one of its buses bombed in Isulan town, Sultan Kudarat, in April, resulting in injuries to several passengers, including children traveling from Cotabato City to General Santos City.

The military attributed the Isulan bombing to the Dawlah Islamiyah, a militant group allegedly involved in extortion, specifically targeting bus companies to finance its extremist causes. –

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