A bomb ripped through a bus in the southern Philippines on Wednesday, killing three people and wounding 16 more, the military said.

The bus had just parked at a terminal in the town of Carmen in North Cotabato province, 930 kilometres south of Manila, when the explosion occurred.

The bomb was believed to have been planted in the luggage compartment at the bottom of the bus, operated by the Rural Transit company, said Colonel Leopoldo Galon, a regional military spokesman.

Galon said the dead included a 10-year-old girl. Four of the wounded were in critical condition.

Senior Superintendent Cornelio Salinas, the provincial police commander, said at least one suspect has been identified based on the accounts of witnesses.

“The suspect is among the usual people who conduct bombings against Rural Transit buses in the area,” he said. “The motive is usually extortion or sometimes business rivalry.”

Other buses of the Rural Transit company have been bombed by extortion gangs in the past for failing to pay protection money. Muslim militants also operate in the area. - Sapa-dpa