- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 4, 2009

KORONADAL, PHILIPPINES (AP) - Two homemade bombs exploded hours apart in the same bus Saturday, wounding the conductor and five passengers in an attack police said may have been the work of an extortion gang led by former Muslim rebels.

Koronadal city police chief Froilan Quedilla said the first device, made from a mortar shell and triggered by a cell phone, exploded as the bus was about to enter a terminal.

A second bomb, which was placed inside the baggage compartment under the bus and near the fuel tank, went off about four hours later as investigators were gathered on the other side of the vehicle, Quedilla said. No one was hurt in that blast.

He said investigators did not immediately check the compartment after a bomb-sniffing dog detected no explosives there.

The Al-Khobar extortion gang or business rivals may have been responsible for the blasts, Quedilla said in a radio interview.

He said one of the passengers was in serious condition but the conductor was well enough to be questioned by police.

The Biocoop Husky Transport bus company suspended all its trips passing through Koronadal, about 610 miles (980 kilometers) southeast of the Philippine capital, Manila.

It was the fourth attack in three weeks on the same bus company, which has ignored extortion attempts by the Al-Khobar group, and came several days after a suspected gang member was arrested.

Al-Khobar is suspected of carrying out bombings when extortion or ransom payments are not made. It was allegedly behind several deadly bombings of buses and business establishments that have occurred since 2007.

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