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Archive for July, 2007

 

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 06:16pm (Mla time) 07/27/2007

 

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered punitive actions against the attackers who killed 14 Marines in Basilan on July 10 put on hold for three days to give way to an investigation by the a joint fact-finding team of the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

At a command conference at Camp Navarro here, Arroyo gave the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) three days from Friday to determine who killed the Marines and beheaded 10 of them during a clash in Al-Barkah town, Armed Forces chief of staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said.

He also said that, notwithstanding the reprieve given the MILF, Arroyo ordered the military will continue to launch operations against the extremist Abu Sayyaf in Basilan and other parts of Mindanao.

“Until such time that the results of the investigation come in, there should be no [punitive action],” Esperon told a news conference at the Edward Andrews Airbase.

But, he added: “We expect D-day on Tuesday.”

The military chief acknowledged that the three-day reprieve is meant to preserve peace talks between the government and the MILF.

Once the CCCH identifies the perpetrators and cases are filed in court, Esperon said the Basilan police would serve the arrest warrants with the military acting as a “strong back-up force.”

“By going through legal processes, we shall avoid unnecessary action and reaction,” Esperon said.

But he minced no words about his desire to punish the Marines’ killers.

“We must go full force and steadfast and uncompromising in punishing the beheaders [sic], the more that we allow this to pass without getting punished, we will be encouraging more beheading,” he said.

Esperon also said that it was “not a matter of who perpetrated [the beheadings] anymore.”

“It’s just a matter of punishing them so that people will not think that it is perfectly all right to behead, this barbaric act has no place,” he said.

Acting defense secretary Norberto Gonzales agreed, saying: “No more amnesty for beheaders this time and in the future.”

At least 130 MILF leaders and members were named in the arrest order issued by Judge Leo Jay Principe of the Basilan Regional Trial Court Branch 1 on Thursday.

Principe recommended no bail bond for the nine murder charges against the accused and P200,000 bail bond for each of them for the four counts of frustrated murder.

The military has said the warrant would be its “passport” to moving against the Marines’ killers.

Chief Inspector Danilo Bacas, information chief of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) police, said among those ordered arrested are Hamsa Sakandun, Nat Mudalan, Suhod Dimaya, Sulaiman Murata, Hadji Dan Asnawi, Lun Hadji, Rogie Indama and Nurhasan Jamin, all MILF or Abu Sayyaf leaders in Basilan.

During the command conference, Esperon said Arroyo also approved the procurement of mortar rounds and tubes to be used against the Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf.

Arroyo, in a fatigue vest with the tag of commander-in-chief over a white shirt and Khaki pants, arrived at the Edwin Andrews Airbase before 10:30 a.m.

She was met by Esperon, Lieutenant General Eugenio Cedo, Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, and Lieutenant General Romeo Tolentino, Army chief, among others.

The MILF appealed to the government Thursday, through the joint CCCH, to hold off punitive actions against the Marines’ attackers until the investigation has identified them.

The CCCH inquiry is set to start in Basilan also on Friday.

Police Director General Oscar Calderon said the police will spearhead the serving of the warrant against the suspects.

“We are the law enforcement agency so we will be the one to serve the warrant against the group,” Calderon said.
Esperon gave the go-signal for punitive actions after the MILF failed to surrender the Marines’ attackers last Sunday, the deadline given by the military chief.

The MILF took responsibility for the attack on the Marines in Al-Barkah town, saying the troops encroached on its territory, but denied beheading and mutilating the 10 dead troops.

Meanwhile, Malaysia and international donors appeared to be trying to stave off another conflict in the south, with chief Malaysian negotiator, Othman Abdul Razak, meeting with MILF chairman Al Haj Murad last Wednesday.

After that, the rebel chief ordered guerrillas to exercise “maximum restraint” and pledged their commitment to the peace process, according to guerrilla spokesman Eid Kabalu.

Donors Canada and Japan expressed alarm over a possible outbreak of hostilities in letters to the government this week, saying the fighting may prompt them to suspend aid operations in the south.

But Gonzales said the government would act as a “sovereign state” and that the donor countries’ concerns would not affect its decision on whether or not to move against the Marines’ killers.

“That [concern] will not affect our decision. We have expressed our gratitude to our friends for their help, but if we have to make a decision, we will do so as a sovereign state,” Gonzales said in a radio interview.

With a report from Lira Fernandez, Thea Alberto, INQUIRER.net; Julie S. Alipala, Jeoffrey Maitem, Charlie C. Señase, Inquirer Mindanao; Originally posted at 10:40am


Copyright 2007 INQUIRER.net. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Inquirer
Last updated 05:38pm (Mla time) 07/24/2007

 

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Shut up.

This was what Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said Tuesday in a statement addressed to both the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the military.

Dureza said his call for a moratorium on public statements will enable the parties to tighten coordination and make the ceasefire mechanism work to address the July 10 Basilan incident, where 14 Marine soldiers were killed.

He said there should be sobriety on public statements related to the situation in Basilan.

“We have to exhaust all means to preserve our gains in the peace process and we should not allow the Basilan incident to squander the gains that we have all achieved so far,” he said.

Dureza said the public statements have recently been traced as the cause for speculations that an all-out-war against the MILF is looming.

“We call on all concerned groups to properly respond to the unfolding events with informed and engaged actions towards the preservation of peace,” he said.

In Basilan, an influential Muslim cleric urged President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to uphold the primacy of the peace talks by ordering the military to suspend the go-signal for a massive strike against MILF forces in that province.

Abdulla Hamja Uttu, head of Darul Ifta (House of Opinion) in Basilan, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone that over 1,500 families in the province had already left their homes for fear of being caught in the crossfire if war erupted.

“If the government is really supporting the peace talks, then, they should exert all efforts to prevent any fighting that may happen in Basilan. We want peace here. Thousands of people will be affected if the military will pursue their plan,” said Uttu, also a member of the Basilan provincial peace and order council.

Church groups, civil society members and business leaders in Zamboanga City also called on the military to reconsider its planned punitive action against those behind the Albarka incident, where 10 of the 14 Marines killed were beheaded.

Father Antonio Moreno of the Jesuit Society and president of the Ateneo de Zamboanga University (ADZU) said “some kind of a due process” should be allowed first.

“There are calls from other parties to have punitive action, and we, who are concerned here, want due process first to happen, but at the same time we are also conscious that delays and uncertainties in investigation would amount to justice denied,” he said.

Moreno led the signing of the Manifesto for Peace and Sobriety here Tuesday.

Lawyer Arsenio Gonzales Jr., chair of the Movement for Better Zamboanga, said the absence of investigation before implementing certain military action will result in serious and adverse effects.

“An investigation body or a probe is in order to find out what really happened. And based on the results of the investigation perhaps that’s the time we can answer questions like do we need a military operation or do we only need a police action,” Gonzales said.

Moreno said the religious communities in Zamboanga expressed great concern for the safety and security of the people.

Lieutenant General Eugenio Cedo, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, said the government and the MILF’s joint Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (JCCCH) was already investigating the incident.

But the International Monitoring Team (IMT) has abandoned its plan of sending a team to Basilan to investigate the incident in Albarka town.

Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the MILF peace panel, said the IMT has cited the deployment of more troops to Basilan as reason for backing out.

He said the IMT, which is led by Malaysia, had told them the arrival of more soldiers has created tension and that it could compromise the safety of IMT members there.

The IMT has earlier announced its team was ready for deployment to Basilan to investigate the incident.

The MILF admitted its forces engaged the Marines in combat but denied they beheaded 10 of the dead soldiers.

Cedo acknowledged the general sentiments of the Church and business leaders here, but said “there are more than 500 armed elements in that area.”

“In order to have real peace in the area, we must be able to eliminate the cause of that un-peaceful situation,” Cedo said.

“It’s not to avenge. It’s not to exact revenge. We will just enforce the law and what is supposed to be done in the area by all means,” he added.

At least five battalions of Marine soldiers, a battalion of Army troops and local militia forces have been deployed in Basilan for what the military called a punitive action.

Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. had already given go signal for a massive strike after the MILF failed to turn over its members accused of being behind the beheading.

The MILF said it was taking a defensive stand, just waiting for the military to fire the first shot.

And, there are reports that the MILF is also preparing for war outside Basilan. This, after the military reportedly deployed two battalions of Army soldiers in Lanao del Norte.

The rebel group’s ground commander in Lanao del Norte, Abdurahman Macapaar alias Commander Bravo, has threatened to launch retaliatory attacks on government military installations in the province should the Armed Forces pursue its attacks on “our fellow mujahideens in Basilan.”

Macapaar admitted he does not have the sanction of the MILF central command for this action but justified it as a “moral duty to avenge an injustice that will be committed against our brothers.”

Reports from Julie S. Alipala, Jeffrey Tupas, Edwin O. Fernandez, Jeoffrey Maitem, Ryan D. Rosauro, Inquirer Mindanao

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By Nash Maulana, Edwin Fernandez, Jeoffrey Maitem
Mindanao Bureau
Last updated 05:34pm (Mla time) 07/21/2007

 

COTABATO CITY–At least 5,000 people in several villages of Albarka, Basilan have moved out of their homes ahead of the the military’s deadline, which expires on Saturday, for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to hand over suspects in the July 10 ambush that killed 14 soldiers, according to a regional official.

Bai Racma Ambolodto, social welfare secretary of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), said residents have decided not to wait for fighting to break out.

She said residents of barangay (villages) Ginanta, Linuan, and Makalang, and the sitios of Bohe Naga, Puh-Puh, Bohe Lessen, Bohe Libi and Bohe Buug in Albarka have sought refuge in the barangay of Manunggul, Magcawa and Pagtawanan since last week when additional troops were deployed in the province.

She said ARMM Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan has already ordered the release of some 100 sacks of rice to help the villagers.

Ambolodto said the Department of Social Welfare and Development is also working with non-government organizations and local government officials to ensure the welfare of the evacuees.

Armed Forces chief Hermogenes Esperon set the deadline last week for the hand over of Commander Abubakar and the men of the MILF’s 114th Base Command in Barangay Ginanta, where 10 of the 14 soldiers killed in the ambush were beheaded.

But the MILF, which acknowledges its forces were involved in the clash, has said it is not bound by the ceasefire agreement with the government, to hand over the soldiers. It has denied that MILF fighters were the ones who beheaded the Marines.

Esperon said additional forces have already been deployed in Albarka in preparation for the offensive against the suspects in the July 10 ambush.

“We will defend our position,” said Mohagher Iqbal, MILF chief negotiator

As this developed, the chairman of the government’s ceasefire coordinating committee, appealed to the military to wait for the results of an investigation being conducted by the International Monitoring Team (IMT) before any offensive is launched.

Brig. Gen. Edgardo Gurrea said the probe could help determine who beheaded the Marines.

Gurrea said any military action at this point would only threaten the gains of the peace process.

Hatimil Hassan, deputy chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), has warned that any military action in Basilan against the MILF could develop into a full-blown war.

Hassan said most of those in the MILF have relatives in the MNLF and it is not remote that their men will fight alongside the MILF rebels.

“There is a possibility the war would escalate, that’s why it would be difficult. In this kind of situation, we need to find a peaceful way to resolve the problem and any military action is not the solution,” Hassan said.

Mary Ann Arnado, executive director of the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID), agreed that the planned military operation could get out of control and would result in the displacement of more people.

Arnado cited two instances when the military launched operations against the MILF.

She said in 2000, nearly one million people were displaced when President Joseph Estrada declared an all-out war against the rebel group.

This was repeated, she said, in 2003 when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo authorized a military offensive against the MILF in North Cotabato.


Copyright 2007 Mindanao Bureau. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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By Jeoffrey Maitem
Inquirer
Last updated 02:04pm (Mla time) 07/20/2007

 

KIDAPAWAN CITY, Philippines — The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Friday said the release of Italian priest Giancarlo Bossi in Lanao del Norte proved the information they have been feeding to the military — but which was supposedly largely ignored — was correct after all.

Mohagher Iqbal, MILF information officer and chief negotiator, said had the military listened to them, the incident in Albarka (Tipo-Tipo), Basilan, where 14 Marine soldiers were killed, 10 of them beheaded, could have been avoided.

The incident occurred as government forces were on their way back to base after search-and-rescue operations for Bossi.

Iqbal said they had been telling the military that Bossi was not in Basilan but they were not heeded.

“We are happy that, indeed, the priest was released. However, we were saddened that many lives were lost due to the intelligence report regarding the priest’s presence in Basilan,” he said.

Iqbal said they believe the military had deliberately ignored the MILF information so that it could order troops to operate within rebel territory in Basilan.

“It’s clear the military lied and used the report to attack our forces in Basilan,” he said


Copyright 2007 Inquirer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Mindanao Bureau
Last updated 04:57pm (Mla time) 07/19/2007

 

ZAMBOANGA CITY — The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Thursday stood by its earlier statement it would not hand over to authorities those behind brutal attack on a convoy of Philippine Marines in Basilan, where 14 Marine soldiers were killed.

On Wednesday, Armed Forces chief General Hermogenes Esperon warned during a visit in Zamboanga City that the military would unleash its troops if the secessionist rebels failed to turn over Commander Abubakar and fighters of the MILF’s 114th Base Command by Sunday.

“If they fail, our options, we can take any options,” Esperon said.

The July 10 attack in Tipo-Tipo, Basilan — in which 10 of the 14 Marines killed were beheaded — was viewed by the government, the MILF, and analysts as a boon to the already slow and complicated peace process, plunging relations between the government and the separatist rebels into new lows.

Prior to the incident, which the MILF owned up to, preparations were being taken for the resumption of the Malaysia-brokered peace talks, which have been stalled over disagreements on areas to be covered by a new Muslim-administered region in the southern Philippines.

“This will really have an implication,” Secretray Jesus Dureza, presidential adviser on the peace process, agreed.

Esperon said aside from a battalion of Marine soldiers that was deployed in Basilan from Sulu over the weekend, another battalion arrived on Wednesday.

A total of four battalions of Marine soldiers are, as of Thursday, in Basilan under the 1st Marine Brigade.

“We are bent on continuing our plans for police actions against the perpetrators. We must be able to find out who perpetrated this. We ask the MILF for cooperation on this since they acknowledged that it was their own men who ambushed us. We ask them to turn over the perpetrators of the beheading,” Esperon said.

The MILF has admitted that its troops were involved in the incident but said it was a legitimate encounter and not an ambush.

Mohagher Iqbal, MILF’s information officer and chief negotiator, however denied that MILF guerrillas in Albarka beheaded the Marines.

He said the MILF was determined to protect its territory and its forces in Basilan and that any military offensive will be met with resistance.

If the MILF will not cooperate with the authorities, Esperon said, the military will exhaust all means to flush out the suspects.

“And so if indeed they will not, then we are still determined to punish those who committed this barbaric and inhuman act,” he said.

“This (barbaric act) is no longer under the ambit of peace process. As much as possible, we want to follow the mechanics as provided for in the peace process. But on the matter of punishing those who committed the barbaric act, we may not,” Esperon said.

But Iqbal said Esperon’s warning would not help the peace process.

“We understand that they lost some soldiers, but such positioning is not helpful to the peace process. Tough positioning should not be done at the expense of the peace process,” Iqbal said.

Chief Superintendent Joel Goltiao, police director for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), said criminal charges have already been filed against Abubakar and his men.

Goltiao said the filing of the charges gave authorities a passport to run after Abubakar’s group.

Iqbal said it was normal for the police to file charges against suspected criminals but then, this would not force the MILF to hand over Abubakar and his men.

Both MILF and government should wait for the results of the investigation of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) led by Malaysia before any action is taken, he said.

The Malaysian government has already agreed to send a team from the IMT to Basilan according to another rebel official.

Jun Mantawil, MILF’s peace panel secretariat chief, said they received the information on Thursday.

“This is a good development because the truth will come out soon. They will determine which party violated the ceasefire that led to that deadly encounter in Basilan,” Mantawil said.

“We made the proposal for the investigation of international human rights group because we are not sure of the IMT coming to Basilan. Now that they were allowed to go, then this is perfectly alright,” Iqbal said.

The MILF, estimated by the military to have 13,000 members with 10,000 firearms, has been fighting for self-rule in the impoverished southern Mindanao region, the homeland of Muslim Filipinos in the overwhelmingly Christian country. Reports from Julie S. Alipala, Edwin Fernandez, Nash Maulana and Jeoffrey Maitem, Inquirer Mindanao and The Associated Press


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By Jeoffrey Maitem
Mindanao Bureau
Last updated 02:49pm (Mla time) 07/19/2007

 

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — Malaysia has agreed to send a team of international monitors to investigate the July 10 clash in Basilan in which 10 of 14 Marines killed were beheaded and mutilated.

Jun Mantawil, head of the peace panel secretariat of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), said they have received word that Malaysia has agreed to send the International Monitoring Team (IMT) to go to Basilan to lead the fact-finding mission.

Earlier, acting Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales said he met with his Malaysian counterpart and asked that the IMT be called in to probe the incident and identify those responsible for the beheadings.

Malaysia has been brokering peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

It also heads the IMT, which monitors a ceasefire agreement between the two parties.

The MILF has owned up to engaging the Marines in a daylong battle, claiming the troops had encroached in its territory in violation of the ceasefire, but has denied the beheadings.

The military said the attack on the Marines was staged by a combined force of MILF and Abu Sayyaf fighters, along with “local lawless elements,” and has demanded that the secessionist organization surrender its members who were involved in the incident.


Copyright 2007 Mindanao Bureau. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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By Michael Lim Ubac, Alcuin Papa
Inquirer
Last updated 03:34am (Mla time) 07/19/2007

 

MANILA, Philippines — The latest bomb attack in Tacurong City, which injured three persons, including a child, can be a test case for the controversial Human Security Act (HSA), Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said Wednesday.

“[The law] can be used everywhere, anywhere,” Ermita said at a top-level press conference in Malacañang, adding that the bomb attack “shows us the relevance of the [HSA] and the need for us to be vigilant to protect the security of the people.”

But Chief Supt. Felizardo Serapio Jr., Central Mindanao police chief, told reporters in Camp Crame that Wednesday’s attack on a unit of the Yellow Bus Lines (YBL) was an act of extortion, and not of terror.

Serapio said the group responsible for Wednesday’s explosion was also behind the series of bomb attacks on the Weena Bus Co.

“As in other cases in the past, the motive here is extortion. Lately, there have been developments in these incidents. The suspects are hitting terminals rather than buses this time,” Serapio said.

Philippine National Police Director General Oscar Calderon also said the PNP was not yet inclined to test the anti-terror law on those behind the attacks on the bus companies.

“It’s dangerous to test the new law [at this time]. We can manage with the existing laws,” Calderon said.

Earlier in the day, police and military authorities in Tacurong announced that an improvised bomb exploded at around 12:30 p.m. in a YBL bus at the public transport terminal.

Col. Danilo Garcia, commander of the Army’s 604th Infantry Brigade, said the bomb went off shortly after the bus with Plate No. LGC 304 arrived in Tacurong from Isulan town, also in Sultan Kudarat province. It was bound for General Santos City.

Garcia said the al-Khobar gang, which had been demanding protection money from the YBL, could be behind the explosion.

Terror list

Ermita disclosed that the Palace, through the departments and agencies involved in security and peace and order, was now drawing up a list of terror groups in the country.

There was no specific mention of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army, but Palace officials said the government would not work for the removal of the CPP-NPA from the list of terror organizations drawn up by the United States and European Union.

“Having them delisted, we’re not agreeing to that. That’s the very reason we have had stalled peace talks [since 2004],” Ermita said.

He said the “list of possible targets” of the HSA would be made public “in due time.”

The officials present at the press conference were Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, Solicitor General Agnes Devanadera, Defense Undersecretary Ric Blancaflor, Foreign Undersecretary Rafael Seguis, Director Cesar Garcia of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency and Director General Conrado Limcaoco Jr. of the Philippine Information Agency.

Seguis said it was the Arroyo administration, through the late Foreign Secretary Blas Ople, that “convinced the European Union to include” the CPP-NPA in the foreign terror list.

Asked about the communist rebels’ demand to be delisted as a precondition for the resumption of peace talks being mediated by the Norwegian government, Seguis said: “We cannot in our instance request the delisting. I don’t think we can do that.”

But he stressed that the terror listing contemplated in the HSA was “a different one” because it required a process via the Court of Appeals.

“It’s an entirely new procedure for us,” he said, referring to the law’s requirement that certain organizations be proscribed as terrorist groups.

Cold sweat in the media

Defending the HSA, Gonzalez said the public should first note its relevance before questioning its legality.

“We have not yet tested this law. It’s just like telling me that this law has [triggered] cold sweat on the backs of people in the media,” he said.

But Calderon said his men in the PNP had “apprehensions” about the anti-terror law.

“There are a lot of penalties against the PNP. It will difficult, but we will find ways to cope,” he said.

At a command conference Wednesday in Camp Crame national police headquarters in Quezon City, Chief Supt. Samuel Pagdilao, the PNP spokesperson, said heads of the PNP’s regional and support units voiced the concerns of the troops on the ground.

Paramount among these concerns, Calderon said, was the penalty to be slapped on police officers found to have detained any suspect illegally. (Under the HSA, anyone who is detained illegally is entitled to P500,000 per day of his/her detention, to be paid by the arresting agency.)

Calderon said the PNP would propose that the multi-agency Anti-Terror Council shoulder the fee.

He also raised the need to disseminate the right information on the HSA to ground troops.

“[We must] go down to the regional, station, precinct and, if possible, the barangay level. We have to also inform the community, in order to make [the HSA] acceptable,” Calderon said.

He said an information campaign was being planned, and that the PNP would continue conducting training seminars for its personnel.

But with “safeguards” in place, Calderon wondered why militant groups were protesting the HSA. “We haven’t given it a chance yet,” he said, adding:

“The new law leaves no room for abuse. I will be the first to impose sanctions and file charges against erring personnel.”

2 arrested

The explosion in Tacurong occurred a day after police authorities announced the filing of charges against two men arrested in connection with a similar attack against the YBL in nearby Koronadal City on July 7.

“The bomb attack could be a demonstration of outrage by the group, whose two members was arrested last week and charged in court,” Serapio said in Tacurong.

Insp. Maricel Alcala, spokesperson of the Tacurong police, identified two of those wounded in Wednesday’s explosion as vendor Kent Antiquiza, 12, a resident of the city, and Melecio Castillo of Mlang, Cotabato.

She said the third one, a woman, had minor injuries.

Alcala said Castillo and the woman were among the bus passengers. She said two other passengers fainted after the explosion and were taken to a hospital.

Earlier, Supt. Suharto Tocao, Sultan Kudarat police chief, said the explosion occurred when the bus had been emptied of passengers.

Bus driver Felizardo Ordan said that as soon as the bus arrived at the terminal and shortly before the explosion, three women passengers hurriedly disembarked.

“I believe they carried the explosive,” he told Radio dxMS in Cotabato City.

Powerful bomb

Garcia said the explosive could have been fashioned out of a 60-mm or 81-mm mortar shell and was fitted with a mobile phone as trigger mechanism.

He said that as in the previous explosions in the region, some of which were blamed on extortion syndicates, the bomb was also powerful and tore out the rear portion of the bus.

Tocao said investigators were checking if Wednesday’s explosion had any connection to the July 7 explosion in another YBL unit in Koronadal.

No one was injured in that explosion, but the bus was damaged.

Last month, eight persons were killed and more than 24 others were injured when explosions hit Weena buses in Bansalan, Davao del Sur; Matalam, North Cotabato; and Cotabato City.

Unlike the July 7 attack in Koronadal, no one has been arrested in connection with the attacks on the Weena buses. With reports from Edwin Fernandez, Aquiles Zonio, Charlie Señase and Jeoffrey Maitem, Inquirer Mindanao


Copyright 2007 Inquirer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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