|(Rural Bus Blast in Bukidnon)|
MANILA, PHilippines - At least 11 people were reported killed and several others injured in a bus explosion in Bukidnon yesterday.
Initial reports said nine of the passengers of the Rural Transit Mindanao Inc. (RTMI) bus were killed instantly by the explosion, reportedly caused by an improvised explosive device (IED). The two others died while being treated at the hospital.
Some 21 passengers were seriously hurt during the explosion and were rushed to the Valencia hospital.
The bus reportedly came from Wao, Lanao del Sur and was on its way to Cagayan de Oro City when it exploded several meters away from the main entrance of the Central Mindanao State University in Maramag town at about 5:30 p.m.
Bukidnon provincial police spokesman Inspector Jeselle Longakit said investigators are still at the scene, looking for clues as to how the IED was planted inside the bus.
“At around 5:30 p.m., an IED exploded in the main gate of the RTMI in Musuan, Maramag in Bukidnon, involving bus 2640 going to Cagayan de Oro City,” Longakit reported to the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters.
Lt. Norman Tagros, spokesman of the Army’s 8th Infantry Battalion, said soldiers were still trying to determine the motive behind the blast.
Maj. Christian Uy, spokesman of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division, said authorities are still looking into the people or group behind the attack.
“None yet, it’s too early to tell,” Uy said.
PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Wilben Mayor confirmed the report from Longakit. He said the Bukidnon police are still investigating the incident.
There were reports that yesterday’s attack was the second on the same bus firm.
The Mindanao news site Gold Star Daily said an RTMI bus from Tacurong City to Cagayan de Oro exploded last Nov. 6, also in Maramag.
The November bus attack was blamed on a terror group that allegedly planted a crude bomb fashioned out of a 60-mm mortar shell with a triggering device.
Security forces, however, could not pinpoint the group responsible for yesterday’s attack, but suspected they could be the Islamist group Khalifa Islamiyah Mindanao (KIM) whose recruits are training on bombs and explosives in the outskirts of Wao.
Intelligence sources also revealed Arab-looking terrorists with links to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are presently conducting these bomb and demolition training, not only for the KIM but also the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.