A bomb ripped through a passenger bus Thursday in the southern Philippines, killing at least eight people and wounding 10 in an attack authorities blamed on an extortion gang with links to Muslim militants.Source.
The bus was traveling with more than 50 passengers when the powerful blast shook the rear part of the vehicle from the overhead compartment, police Chief Superintendent Gil Meneses said. The force of the blast was so strong it decapitated two of the victims, he said.
The wounded were brought to hospitals near Matalam township in North Cotabato province. Police and army units interviewed survivors and combed through the twisted metal trying to extract the injured, Meneses said.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing. The south of the Philippines is home to kidnappers, extortion gangs and a decades-old Muslim insurgency.
Military spokesman Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang said authorities suspect the Al-Khobar extortion gang in the attack, saying the bus company involved in the bombing had been targeted for extortion in the past.
Al-Khobar is the most notorious of the region's extortion gangs, and authorities say it is made up of criminals and former Muslim rebels who have been blamed for attacking business establishments refusing to pay their ransom demands. The group is on a U.S. list of terrorist organizations.
For more information on Al-Khobar's activity, click here.