Four police officers sacked over bungled hostage rescueAugust 25th, 2010 - 1:44 pm ICT by IANS
Manila, Aug 25 (DPA) Philippine police Wednesday sacked four officers who led a bungled hostage rescue operation that left eight Hong Kong tourists dead.
The policemen were Inspector Santiago Pascual of the special weapons and tactics team and three of his officers who led Monday’s deadly assault on a tourist bus with 16 hostages, according to police spokesman Senior Superintendent Agrimero Cruz.
Cruz added that Chief Superintendent Rodolfo Magtibay, head of the Manila police force, also took leave after admitting he was the one who ordered the assault after an 11-hour standoff at a seaside park in Manila.
“He (Magtibay) assumes full responsibility for it,” Cruz said. “He said the situation ongoing at that time warranted a hasty assault.”
The Hong Kong administration has severely criticised the handling of the hostage crisis and demanded an explanation from the Philippine government.
An initial investigation showed that lapses in the operation included poor handling of negotiations, improper crowd control and lack of competence of the assault team leader, according to police Director General Jesus Verzosa.
Verzosa said it was also discovered that the assault team lacked equipment and planning.
Philippine flags in public offices and buildings were flown at half-mast to mourn the death of eight Hong Kong tourists killed in the tragedy.
The remains of the slain tourists - three of whom were Canadian citizens - will be flown to Hong Kong later in the day aboard a special chartered flight, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.
“Everything is in order. There will be a send-off,” he said, adding that Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman would be among the senior officials to oversee the event.
According to the police autopsy report, all eight hostages - four women and four men - suffered gunshot wounds, mostly to the head and neck.
Cruz said investigators were still determining if they were killed by the hostage-taker or caught in the crossfire. Members of the assault team have been ordered to submit their firearms for ballistic tests, he added.
The hostage-taker, sacked police officer Rolando Del Rosario Mendoza, suffered eight gunshot wounds including two in the neck and one in the head, which was the fatal shot, Cruz said.
Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo said results of the investigation into the botched rescue operation would be known in a week or two.
“Evidently, the police lacked the proper equipment and the appropriate skills and training to handle these kinds of situations,” Robredo said.
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Tags: assault team, autopsy report, canadian citizens, chartered flight, chief superintendent, crowd control, deadly assault, death of eight, edwin lacierda, gunshot wounds, hostage crisis, hostage rescue, hour standoff, philippine flags, philippine police, police director, presidential spokesman, special weapons and tactics, special weapons and tactics team, welfare secretary