Seven dead as Philippine hostage crisis ends (Roundup)August 23rd, 2010 - 10:17 pm ICT by IANS
Manila, Aug 23 (DPA) Seven people were killed Monday in the Philippines when a sacked police officer seized a tourist bus and opened fire at his hostages before he was killed by police.
Six of the dead were Chinese passengers held for more than 10 hours inside the air-conditioned bus in a seaside park in Manila city, according to doctors at two hospitals where they were brought.
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.
Six 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.
Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo said the government was “saddened” by the violent end to the standoff, which began more than 10 hours earlier.
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, said Manila City Vice Mayor Isko Moreno.
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.
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.
The Hong Kong government said it had chartered a plane to take relatives of the dead and injured holidaymakers to Manila.
The plane would leave before midnight Monday and would also carry government officials, medical staff, police and immigration officials, a government spokesman said.
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, chinese woman, filipinos, glass windows, hostage taker, interior secretary, isko moreno, jesse robredo, m16 assault rifle, manila city, national television, philippine hostage crisis, police assault, seaside park, tourist bus, vice mayor