Tue, Aug 24, 2010 - Page 1 News List

Manila tourist bus hijack ends with shootout, 7 killed

AP AND REUTERS , MANILA

A dramatic hostage-taking in the Philippines capital ended with six bus passengers dead yesterday after shots rang out and police stormed the vehicle.

The hostage-taker also died, police said.

Five hostages were taken to the Manila Hospital, two of them dead on arrival and three alive without injuries, the hospital said, while the Manila Doctors Hospital reported it received four dead and one woman in critical condition.

The gunman, identified as 55-year-old former police captain Rolando Mendoza who was armed with an M-16 assault rifle, had stopped the bus, which initially had 25 people on board, across a wide road in Manila’s biggest park.

“The hostage-taker was killed. He chose to shoot it out with our men,” police Colonel Nelson Yabut told reporters. “On our first assault, Captain Mendoza was sprawled in the middle of the aisle and shot one of our operatives. On our second assault we killed him.”

Police could be seen removing a body from the front of the bus before entering the vehicle. The Red Cross said at least five hostages left the bus alive, but TV images also showed more bodies being removed.

The end of the 11-hour drama came more than an hour after police commandos had moved in to break windows and surround the bus following a series of shots. The driver of the bus was seen running to safety after the first flurry of gunshots.

Mendoza had threatened to kill the hostages in a live telephone interview with a local radio station.

“I can see there are many SWAT teams arriving, they are all around,” Mendoza had said. “I know they will kill me, I’m telling them to leave because anytime I will do the same here.”

Mendoza’s brother, Gregorio, told a local TV station that his brother was upset by his dismissal from the force. Local media said he had been sacked for reasons including extortion and because of his sacking, he had lost his retirement benefits.

“His problem was he was unjustly removed from service. There was no due process, no hearing, no complaint,” Gregorio said.

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