By Santosh Digal, BosNewsLife Southeast Asia Correspondent reporting from the Philippines
MANILA, PHILIPPINES (BosNewsLife) -- Christians in the Philippines on Saturday, August 4, mourned the death of a Protestant pastor who was killed in one of two explosions that ripped through a bus terminal in southern Koronadal City. The blast Friday, August 3, also wounded up to 10 passengers, police and media reports said.
South Cotabato provincial police director Senior Superintendent Robert Kuinisala identified the lone fatality as Willie Caritan, 31, a pastor of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Churches of the Philippines (Camacop).
He was apparently killed instantly when the first device exploded at about 5:30 p.m. at a bus terminal of the Yellow Bus Line (YBL) company. Seconds later, a second bomb exploded in another bus parked inside the terminal. No one was injured in the second blast, police said.
YBL management suspended operations following the attacks, several media reported.
Kuinisila said Caritan, 31, and his wife Cherry were waiting for a bus bound for General Santos City when the first explosion occurred at the baggage area of the terminal. Investigators said Cherry survived because she was inside the terminalâ€™s toilet when the first bomb went off.
"It was just fortunate that the first explosion triggered a commotion and forced passengers in the terminal to scamper away," said YBL Operation Manager Olimpio Par when speaking about the fatality and injured people. Initial reports suggested the blast was not specifically aimed at the preacher.
Police reportedly suspect an extortion group linked to Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), a Southeast Asian militant Islamic organization, carried out the attacks. JI also claimed responsibility for blasts known to have killed hundreds of civilians in Bali including 88 Australians.
A shady group that identified itself as Al-Khobar said it carried out bombings last month, citing the failure of bus company YBL to shell out â€œprotection moneyâ€ of 500,000 Philippines Pesos monthly, about $11,000, BosNewsLife learned.
Militant groups search for cash to finance their operations in several parts of the country. Missionary workers and church leaders working in these areas have expressed concerns about the violence and kidnappings, BosNewsLife established. (With BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos).
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