ZAMBOANGA CITY – Gunmen opened fire on a provincial bus and wounding 8 people in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines, police said Wednesday.
Police said the strafing occurred before midnight Tuesday on the highway, but it was unclear who were behind the daring attack.
Investigators said the bus, owned by Rural Transit of Mindanao, was heading to Pagadian City in Zamboanga del Sur province when it came under fire. It was carrying 34 passengers.
The driver, Celedonio Sugabo, nearly missed a volley of gunfire directed at him, but bullets hit the passengers seated behind.
The attackers continued firing their automatic weapons as the driver struggled to bring the bus away from the line of fire until it reached a marine checkpoint in Muti village about one kilometer from Buenavista village where the ambush occurred.
Initial police report said at least 5 people were involved in the latest attack. The wounded passengers were rushed to hospital in Zamboanga City. Police released the names of the victims as Noel Lopez, 45; John Baynosa, 36; Jaman Alam, 53; Ednalia Gilla, 20; Raniel Abeng, 22; Christopher Cagan, 27; George Elnas, 35; and Genevie Lopez, 35.
City police chief Luisito Magnaye said they were investigating the strafing. “We are still investigating this incident whether it was in retaliation to our law enforcement operations against lawless group or other motives,” he said.
No individual or claimed responsibility for the strafing, but 90 percent of the highway – linking Zamboanga City to nearby provinces - has no street lights and security remains a big problem for travellers and motorists because of threats of attacks from rebels and armed robberies blamed by authorities to bandit groups. (Mindanao Examiner)