COTABATO CITY, Maguindanao: The military on Thursday afternoon thwarted a bombing attempt by still unidentified men at a bus terminal in the town of Shariff Aguak, the stronghold of the Ampatuan clan in this province.
Col. Lito Sobejana, commander of the Army 601st Brigade, said the bomb was discovered after civilian alerted authorities about a suspicious bag left unattended at the Shariff Aguak Bus Terminal situated at the town’s public market.
Sobejana said the improvised bomb was so powerful and could have killed and possibly injured innocent civilians had it not been disarmed.
He said the improvised explosive device was fashioned from a 60-millimeter mortar projectile, one MK-2 type of hand grenade, gasoline, two blasting caps, a nine-volt battery and a mobile phone.
“Our EOD [explosive ordnance disposal]experts were surprised to notice the cellphone connected to the explosives and blasting cap had several missed calls, which indicated there was indeed an attempt to set it off,” Sobejana added.
The Army 601st Brigade commander said there may be a failure in the connection from the bomb or maybe amateurs were involved in the deadly attempt. He was thankful the evil acts did not succeed.
Ferdinand Cabrera, a local media man and stringer of GMA-7 television station, said that based on the witnesses’ account from the passengers of the Husky Bus that plies the General Santos City-Cotabato City route, a young looking man who was among the passengers of Husky bus from Cotabato City alighted at 12:45 pm at the Shariff Aguak terminal. He was carrying a gray backpack.
Cabrera said people at the bus terminal later found the bag unattended and suspected it could be a bomb.
After police and military authorities were alerted, authorities cordoned off the area to allow Army bomb experts to defuse the improvised bomb.
Police and military authorities in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat also flagged down the said bus along the highway en route to General Santos City to check if another bomb was left inside the vehicle.
A massive manhunt was launched against the man described by Sobejana as “young looking.”
JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL