Australia condoles with families of Cotabato bomb blast

MANILA — The Australian embassy in Manila on Wednesday extended its condolences to the bereaved families of those killed in the bombing in Cotabato City on December 31.

“The Australian embassy offers our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of those killed in the attack in Cotabato City,” the embassy statement read.

“Australia remains steadfast in our support for peace in the Philippines,” it added.

Police authorities have earlier formed a special investigation task group to probe the detonation of an improvised explosive device (IED) in front of the South Seas Mall in Cotabato City that killed two and injured 34 others.

One of the fatalities was Jonathan Torribiano, a driver of Commissioner Melanio Ulama of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC).

On Tuesday, Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. said the mall blast should not affect the ongoing efforts to achieve peace in Mindanao.

In a statement, he cautioned the public against the “spread unfounded speculations relating to the incident” as he noted that the matter is an isolated case and security forces are on top of the situation. (PNA