Bus companies asked to board passengers only at designated points; BIFF militant group suspected to be behind Sunday’s bombing

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BUS companies have been asked to direct their drivers to only allow passengers to board at designated points such as bus terminals where security checks are conducted after Sunday’s bombing in Tacurong City where one died and 11 others were injured, a military official said.   

“We are asking them and encouraging them not to pick up along the way because based on the investigation of the 6th Infantry Division, passengers were picked up along the way to Tacurong and they alighted shortly before the explosion and they are suspected to have caused the explosion,” Task Force Davao Commander Darren E. Comia said over Davao City Disaster Radio.  

Mr. Comia said while Davao City, located about 183 kilometers from Tacurong, is not under any similar “direct threat,” security forces across Mindanao are coordinating to avoid a repeat of the incident.   

He said investigations indicate that the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were behind the bombing as the militant group was recently trying to extort money from the bus firm.    

“We do not want to make premature conclusions as to the motive and suspects behind this crime without the benefit of evidence-based investigation, but we are not discounting the possibilities of historical data of criminal motive behind similar attacks in the past,” National police chief Rodolfo S. Azurin, Jr. said on Tuesday.  

A unit of the same bus company was also bombed in May.  

Two members of the BIFF were killed in an encounter with security forces in Maguindanao on Saturday, the military reported.  

“We have been calling those victims of violent extremism to lay down their arms and go back to the folds of the law to avoid circumstances like this, but some are not heeding it,” said 6th Infantry Division commander Roy M. Galido. 

He said six BIFF members have been killed since January while 175 have surrendered to authorities.   

Meanwhile, Cotabato Governor Emmylou “Lala” Taliño Mendoza assured aid to the victims and their families, majority of whom were from the province.   

The lone fatality and eight of those injured were residents of Cotabato, a neighboring province of Sultan Kudarat where Tacurong City is the commercial center. — Maya M. Padillo