Two people, including a young girl, were killed while 17 others were wounded when a bomb exploded inside a passenger bus in Carmen, North Cotabato, Wednesday morning, police and military officials said.

Senior Supt. Cornelio Salinas, North Cotabato provincial police director, identified the fatalities as Rona Causing, 18; Gladzin Himpiso, 10.

Seventeen people were injured, of whom four are seriously hurt and have been taken to the hospital, Lt. Col. Benjamin Hao, commander of the Army’s 7th Infantry Battalion, said in a phone interview.

Salinas identified the injured as Guirea Danggo, 21; Basilisa Anipot, 45; Marvin Nacicnal, 23; Sonny Balanay, 39; Leo Limciano, 44; Alvin Diaz, 19; Lovena Acyo, 46; Lea Fabiona, 52; Analyn Soico, 35; Hara Janine Cosco, 11; Allan Himpiso Sr., 33; Allan Himpiso Jr., 6; Judy Ann Somailon, 9; Smela Luneza, 18; Rosa Delia Garbo, 41; Alberto Isidro, 36, and Demia Causing, 62.

The explosion occurred around 10:25 a.m. while the Rural Transit Bus (KVS-740) was about to enter the terminal, which is located at the public market in Brgy. Poblacion.

“‘Yung bus galing sa Tacurong papuntang Cagayan de Oro, habang papasok ng terminal, market area, pumutok… most probably nilagay sa loob ng bus, sa compartment (‘yung bomba),” Hao said.

A 60-millimeter mortar ammunition was used as the bomb’s “main charge,” he said, citing findings of the police’s Scene of the Crime Operatives and the Army’s Explosives and Ordnance Disposal unit.

In a separate interview, North Cotabato provincial police director Senior Supt. Cornelio Salinas said they have already identified the suspected bomber from their “rogue gallery.”

The suspect allegedly boarded the bus along the road in Kabacan.

“Nakilala ng isang witness ‘yung suspect from our rogue gallery, isa siya sa dalawang suspects sa previous bombings against Rural Transit Bus,” Salinas said.

“Dalawa ang nakikita nating possible motive, one is extortion and the other is a transport group that may have a rivalry with Rural,” the police official added. (John Roson)

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