ZAMBOANGA CITY—Police in Pagadian City detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) found aboard a Rural Transit bus, three minutes before it was set to explode Tuesday evening.
The discovery of the bomb came a few hours after an explosion rocked this city and injured 14 people.
The bus came from this city and was stopping in Pagadian on its way to Cagayan de Oro, according to Chief Supt. Jaime Caringal, Western Mindanao police chief.
He said passengers had notified a bus inspector about an unclaimed baggage around 11:57 p.m.
Caringal said policemen at the terminal took no chances and immediately retrieved the baggage.
He said they immediately “disrupted” it in a secluded area and later found that it contained an IED fitted with a timer.
“It was set to explode at midnight,” he said.
Caringal said police could not say if the explosion here and the bomb found aboard the bus were planted by the same group.
In Tacurong City in Sultan Kudarat province, police authorities are hunting down two suspected local members of the Jemaah Islamiyah, who were allegedly behind Friday last week’s foiled bomb attacks there.
Supt. Joel Limson, Tacurong City police chief, said one of those being hunted down is Tongan Fatima, a foreign-trained bomb expert working for the JI.
Fatima’s identity and that of the other suspect, a certain Toliah, was provided by Badrudin Tapid, who was caught inside the public market with explosives on Friday.
Chief Supt. Felizardo Serapio, Central Mindanao police chief, said Tapid told police investigators that he was invited by Toliah in early August to a meeting in Cotabato City, during which he was commissioned to carry out bomb attacks in Tacurong and nearby areas for a fee.
Shortly before he was arrested, Tapid said he received money from Toliah in Buluan, Maguindanao.
He was also asked to bring the three improvised explosive devices, which authorities would later seize, to Tacurong City.
Tacurong is one of Central Mindanao areas being tightly watched by police authorities after two explosions rocked the city this year.
The Yellow Bus Lines earlier came under attack from extortionists that authorities said had links with the JI.
But increased security had foiled future attacks, according to police, and the Al Khobar Gang, which was tagged as the group responsible for the bombings at the Yellow Bus Lines, had turned to other targets.