5-year-old Killed, 3 Family Members Injured in Southern Philippine Bus Bombing

Jeoffrey Maitem and Mark Navales
Cotabato, Philippines
2022-01-11
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5-year-old Killed, 3 Family Members Injured in Southern Philippine Bus Bombing Military investigators search for evidence around a passenger bus after a bomb exploded near the Southern Philippine town of Aleosan, Jan. 11, 2022.
Armed Forces of the Philippines handout

A 5-year-old boy was killed and six people, including his two younger siblings, were injured when a bomb exploded aboard a bus on Tuesday in the southern Philippines, a region where armed militant groups are active, military officials said.

The Mindanao Star Bus was traveling to Cotabato City when it was rocked by the explosion near Aleosan town, injuring four children and three adults, said Lt. Col. John Baldomar, the spokesman of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, which has jurisdiction over the area.

“The loud explosion was heard coming from the back of the bus,” Baldomar said, adding the boy later died in a hospital.

An Aleosan town police spokesman said the bomb had been placed “where there were a lot of people sitting,” Agence France-Presse news agency reported.

Baldomar said those injured, including an infant and a 3-year-old, were being treated at regional hospitals.

The state-run Philippine News Agency (PNA) reported the children were siblings of the boy who was killed and were being treated for injuries along with their father.

“My boy died due to multiple shrapnel wounds in different parts of his body,” Haron Solaiman, said in a radio interview, according to PNA.

The bus was traveling from the southern city of Davao, President Rodrigo Duterte’s hometown, along the highway near Aleosan town where the blast occurred early Tuesday, Baldomar said. Following the blast, army and police ordnance investigators combed the area for evidence.

Post-blast investigation

“It’s hard to come up with suspects until such time that we are able to identify the components and the type of explosive that was used,” Baldomar said. “The post-blast investigation is ongoing to determine the type of explosive that was used.”

No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but similar bombings in the past have been blamed on militants linked to the Islamic State, according to officials.

Local Army Col. Jo Gonzales, a military brigade commander, told BenarNews that he suspected that the blast could be the handiwork of Bangsamoro Islamic Liberation Front (BIFF), a splinter organization of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The MILF signed a peace deal with Manila and controls a Muslim autonomous area in the south.

“It’s under investigation. We are not discounting the involvement of the BIFF and Daulah Islamiyah groups,” he said. The Daulah Islamiyah is the Philippine name for Islamic State (IS).

At least two BIFF factions have professed allegiance to the Islamic State.

In October 2010, 10 people were killed when a bomb ripped through a passenger bus in a nearby Matalam town, North Cotabato province.

More recently, BIFF militants carried out two roadside bombings in 2021 that killed three and injured many others in the south. In 2019, the group carried out a series of bomb attacks, targeting a market and a restaurant that injured more than two dozen people.

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