Eight Chinese, gunman killed in Philippines hostage drama (Second Roundup)August 24th, 2010 - 12:26 am ICT by IANS
Manila, Aug 23 (DPA) A sacked police officer seized a tourist bus and opened fire at his hostages, killing eight of them, before he was shot dead by police ending an over 10-hour-long hostage drama in a seaside park in Manila city Monday.
Eight of the dead were Chinese passengers held for more than 10 hours inside the air-conditioned bus in a seaside park in Manila city, the Philippine government said.
The hostage-taker, dismissed police officer Rolando Del Rosario Mendoza, was also killed in an exchange of gunfire with the police assault team, authorities said.
There were 15 Chinese tourists and a Filipino driver being held in the bus when the violence erupted.
The driver escaped from the bus when Mendoza began to open fire in an angry outburst after seeing his brother, who was helping in the negotiations, dragged away by police.
Seven Chinese hostages survived the assault but suffered various injuries. One woman cried hysterically as she was helped out of the vehicle, whose glass windows were shattered.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III expressed sorrow over the tragic ending and ordered a probe into the standoff, which began more than 10 hours earlier.
“With the rest of the Filipino people, I wish to offer our deepest condolences to the families of the victims whose lives were lost in the hostage situation,” he said.
“I have directed the fullest cooperation with the Hong Kong authorities on the part of our officials,” he added.
Armed with an M16 assault rifle, Mendoza seized the bus and demanded that authorities reconsider his dismissal from the force in February 2009 due to extortion and harassment. He warned authorities of violence if his demand was not met.
There were 25 people inside the bus when it was seized, including 20 Chinese tourists, a travel guide from Hong Kong and four Filipinos.
Six Chinese tourists, including three children, and three Filipinos were subsequently freed unharmed as “gifts” to negotiators, who were optimistic of a peaceful resolution.
Before Mendoza opened fire, a 44-year-old Chinese woman told DZXL radio station that she and her 15-year-old daughter were among the hostages.
“We are okay but we are afraid,” she said. It could not be determined if the mother and daughter were among the fatalities or survivors.
The hostage-taking played out on live national television, giving Mendoza a chance to see most of the movements of the police from inside the tourist bus.
Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang criticised the Philippines for its handling of the crisis and said he was “deeply saddened” by the deadly outcome.
“This is a major tragedy … that Hong Kong residents trying to make a pleasure trip to Manila should end up with death and casualties,” he said.
“This is very tragic. That way it is handled, particularly the outcome, I find it very disappointing.”
The Hong Kong government issued a travel alert, urging all residents to avoid travel to the Philippines.
In March 2007, a similar hostage-taking occurred when a disgruntled civil engineer armed with a grenade took over a bus with 30 children and teachers near the Manila City Hall.
All hostages were freed unharmed after a 10-hour standoff. The suspect, owner of a day-care centre where the children were pupils, served jail time for the hostage-taking but is now free.
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Tags: angry outburst, assault team, chinese hostages, chinese passengers, chinese tourists, deepest condolences, extortion, filipinos, glass windows, hong kong authorities, hostage drama, hostage situation, hostage taker, m16 assault rifle, manila city, philippine government, philippine president, police assault, seaside park, tourist bus