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UPDATE: 1 dead, at least 6 hurt in North Cotabato bus bombing

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A 5-year-old boy died and at least six other persons, also including minors, were injured when a bomb explosion ripped through a passenger bus in Aleosan, North Cotabato, on Tuesday morning, authorities said.

Benjamin Solaiman, 5, was earlier reported as in critical condition, but expired at 10:30 a.m., according to reports from the police and the Army’s 6th Infantry Division.

Injured were Rodolfo Castillo, 67; Masid Piang, 25; Haron Solaiman Sr., 24; Lester Bautista, 17; Yushra Solaiman, 3; and Haron Solaiman Jr., who is just 5 months old.

The explosion occurred inside a Mindanao Star bus unit (body no. 15511) while it was passing through Purok Narra, Brgy. Upper San Mateo, around 8:15 a.m.

Brig. Gen. Alexander Tagum, Central Mindanao regional police director, called the incident a “terrorist attack.”

A still undetermined type of improvised explosive device (IED) was detonated at the back portion of the passenger bus, he said.

Initial investigation indicated that an unidentified person carrying a bag boarded the bus in Kabacan town and disembarked in Pikit, leaving the cargo, said Tagum.

“The regional police strongly condemns the cowardly terrorist attack against the innocent commuters. We hope for the fast recovery of the injured and be assured that those behind the bombing will face the full force of the law,” he added.

Lt. Col. John Paul Baldomar, 6th ID spokesman, said the bus was traveling from Davao to Cotabato City when the blast occurred.

Policemen, soldiers, and rescuers from the local government rushed to the scene to bring the injured to hospitals, help the other passengers to disembark, and scour the bus for other possible explosive materials, he said.

Members of the Army and police’s Explosives and Ordnance Disposal (EOD) units are still conducting a post-blast investigation to determine the type of explosive that went off.

“Sa ngayon wala pang grupong nagki-claim ng responsibility. Undergoing investigation pa ito para malaman kung anong klaseng explosive ang nilagay sa likod ng bus,” Baldomar said.

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