6 dead, 30 injured in Digos City bombing

DAVAO CITY — Six people were killed while 30 others were injured when a bomb exploded on a passenger bus at a public terminal in Digos City Monday.

One of the six persons who died was identified as Marlon Doey of Basiawan in Sta. Maria, Davao del Sur. No other details were known about the victim except that he was of legal age.

According to police, the Cruiser bus of Metro Shuttle number 209 had just arrived at the terminal from Davao City on its way to Malita, Davao del Sur, when the bomb exploded around 2:45 p.m.

Superintendent Francisco Villaroman, the regional police intelligence officer, said the bomb was packed with steel nails and was placed in an overhead bin that tore a hole in the roof of the bus and shattered its windows. The roof of the terminal also was damaged.

“They placed the bomb overhead and packed it with nails obviously to cause more casualties,” Villaroman said.

Regional police Chief Andres Caro said investigators were collecting debris and bomb fragments at the scene in an effort to reconstruct the device used in the attack.

As of this writing Monday, the authorities have not yet identified the suspects behind the bombing, but Davao del Sur Governor Douglas Ra. Cagas is convinced it was another handiwork of the Al Khobar group.

Cagas, who chairs the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC), was furious upon learning of the explosion.

“Wa sila’y respeto sa atong mga igsuong Muslim nga nagsaulog sa unang adlaw sa Ramadan (These people do not have respect to our brother Muslims who are observing the first day of the holy Ramadan month),” he said.

Al Khobar is a group of extortionists who prey on bus companies and set up bombs when a bus company refuses to give them money.

According to Villaroman, this is the second blast to hit Digos City in just over one month. Last July 24, another Metro Shuttle bus was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) explosion that was also blamed on the Al Khobar group.

He said the notorious extortion gang had demanded 500,000 pesos (US$11,100) plus a 50,000 peso (US$1,100) monthly payment from the Metro Shuttle. When the management refused, they bombed the bus, killing two persons and wounding 33 others.

The bombs used in the two attacks were packed with a similar type of steel nails, Villamoran said.

Provincial Police Director Cesar Darantinao meantime has already ordered his men to conduct a thorough investigation on the bombing.

Tagum City Mayor Rey Uy, whose family owns Metro Shuttle fleet, is unavailable for comment as of this writing Monday. But during July’s blast, he vowed to implement stricter security measures to prevent the same incident from happening again.

Meanwhile, Davao City has been placed on red alert status following the bomb explosion.

Checkpoints and additional police personnel have already been deployed in and around Davao City.

In an interview with Sun.Star Davao, Senior Superintendent Ramon Apolinario, director of the Davao City Police Office, said the city was immediately placed under red alert following the explosion in Digos.

“Checkpoints have been put up in the various entry and exit points of the city to prevent similar incidents,” Apolinario said. By Ely M. Luciano and Dondon Dinoy (With CPM/BOT/AP/Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)