24 Aug 2010

Eight hostages killed in Manila bus siege

11:00 am on 24 August 2010

Eight Chinese tourists have been killed in the Philippines after a former policeman, armed with an assault rifle, hijacked a bus.

The 11-hour hostage drama in the capital, Manila, ended early Tuesday morning when police moved in after shots were fired on the bus.

Commandos shot dead the gunman, identified as 55-year-old former police captain Rolando Mendoza.

Seven people have been taken to hospital. Some 18 people survived the ordeal - mostly tourists from Hong Kong.

Police Colonel Nelson Yabut said the 30 commandos used tear gas and flash bombs in their assault on the bus.

He said on the first assault, Captain Mendoza was sprawled in the middle of the aisle and shot one of the police officers. On the second assault, he moved to the door of the bus, where snipers killed him.

Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang said the deaths were a major tragedy, and expressed disappointment at the way the police in Manila handled the standoff.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino said negotiators had thought the situation would be resolved peacefully, and the hostage taker did not appear set on hurting others or himself, but the situation changed rapidly.

He said there would be an investigation into what caused the situation to deteriorate, including the role of the media.