COTABATO CITY: Defying the presence of police and military detachments and checkpoints along the Cotabato-General Santos Highway, an armed group strafed a passenger bus along Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao, on Saturday, killing the driver and wounding the conductor.
Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu ordered the local police and military to “run after the perpetrators and bring them to the bar of justice.”
Shariff Aguak police chief, Insp. Marlon Silvestre, identified the driver as Jun Nicor, driver of the Husky bus, the lone transport bus firm serving the Cotabato-General Santos highway.
Nicor died of bullet wounds in the back of his head and body, while his conductor – Rolando Ampan – survived with minor bullet injuries, Silvestre said.
He said five men with high-powered rifles, believed to be members of an extortion gang, fired at the air-conditioned bus at around 12:40 p.m. Saturday along Barangay Labolabo in Shariff Aguak while it was traveling from this city towards General Santos.
The crime scene is a known area of operation of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a breakaway faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Two weeks ago, another Husky bus was fired upon by armed men along the same route. An oil tanker was also ambushed last week in nearby Guindulungan town and the ambushers, belonging to the BIFF, later clashed with soldiers in a firefight that briefly closed the highway.
MOH I. SAADUDDIN