Mindanao terminals, public places strengthen security to avert bomb attacks

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) in Mindanao placed in “maximum alert” all public places, particularly terminals, malls, markets, air and seaports to avert further attacks by terrorist group and other lawless elements, this was learned on Tuesday.

The area command chief of the AFP’s Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMincom) Maj. Gen. Armando “Mandy” L. Cunanan ordered all division, brigade and battalion commanders in Central, Southern, Northeastern and Northern Mindanao regions to closely coordinate with the local PNP in securing all public places and other key government and private installations in said regions.

The directive was issued in a wake of Monday afternoon bombing in a bus terminal in Digos City where six civilians were killed and 28 other persons were wounded, five of whom are still in critical condition at the various hospitals in Digos City and Davao City, said EastMincom spokesman Maj. Armand Rico.

Government authorities are looking into possibility that Al-Khobar, a terrorist and extortion group trained by the Indonesian militant Jemaah Islamiya (JI), to be behind the series of bombings in Southern Mindanao.

Last July, another passenger bus owned by Metro Shuttle Bus Liner was blasted where one passenger was killed and 35 others wounded in Digos City terminal.

Tagum City Mayor Rey Uy, owner of Shuttle Bus Liner, blamed the attack to extortion group who are allegedly demanding money. He did not elaborate.

“We are strengthening now our security forces in all public places in the region,” said Senior Supt. Nestor M. Fajura, chief operations officer of Northeastern Mindanao Police Regional Office.

He said bomb disposal experts along with K9 teams were already deployed in public and private terminals to avert the entry of terrorist group.

On the other hand, Diosdado Bravo, area manager of the largest Bachelor bus liner operating in Davao-Tagum-Butuan-Cagayan-Bukidnon-Zamboanga route, also alerted all drivers and conductors to help secure and “closely watch” their respective buses when plying to their respective destinations.

“Day and night monitoring is already strictly enforced by our personnel while we also urged our passengers to help,” said Bravo.

Only two fatalities were so far identified by the EastMincom. They were Mario Duey and Virginia Flores.

Among the wounded and presently confined at various hospitals in Digos and Davao were identified as Rufino Labudin, Teresita Banhao, Leopoldo Banhao, Gracilda Falledo, Adonis Penalosa, Ryan Duey, Dave Ritchie Melencio, Maria Almasan, Loreto Madawop, Eduardo Fernandez, Tomasa Albufera, Mario Lawane, Adorina Penaloza, Maria Tumo, Evangeline Fernandez, Dona Rose Bueno, Sylvia Almazan, Garnet Dulima, Adelina Unaled, Leo Rulio and certain Boyet Valencion.

Identities of the five other passengers were not immediately known. (PNA)

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