Monday, August 23, 2010
Gunman and 8 Hostages Dead in the Philippines
MANILA —A former police officer took a busload of tourists hostage in downtown Manila on Monday morning, opening a 12-hour standoff that was broadcast live on television, including its end as police commandos stormed the bus before a watching crowd.
An ex-policeman who hijacked a tourist bus (inside the bus) speaking with negotiators at the front of the bus in Manila on Monday.
Eight tourists, all from Hong Kong, were killed, along with the hostage-taker. He was identified as Rolando Mendoza, a 55-year-old officer who had been accused of robbery and extortion and was fired last year.
There were indications that Mr. Mendoza, who news reports said was armed with an M-16 assault rifle, was watching the live news broadcasts of the scene on a monitor inside the bus as it sat for hours, curtains drawn, at a major public plaza.
Throughout the day, the gunman wrote his demands for the return of his job and benefits on cardboard and pasted them on the windshield of the bus. One message read, “Big mistake to correct a big wrong decision.”
Late in the afternoon, he posted a message saying, “Media now,” apparently telling journalists to come to him. But by then the police prevented reporters from even getting near the bus.
At one point, the gunman’s brother complained to reporters near the scene that the police were threatening him; the cameras then showed him being detained by officers and shoved into a police car, his relatives wailing behind him. Shortly after, shots were heard from inside the bus.
Gunfire also broke out when the police tried to break the windshield and glass windows of the bus with sledgehammers. A bystander was hit in the leg by one of the bullets.
Mr. Mendoza gave an interview to Radio Mindanao Network, a Manila station, in which he admitted shooting two of the hostages and threatened to kill more if his demands were not met.
“I shot two Chinese,” he told the station in Tagalog. “I will finish them all if they do not stop.”
The commandos struck after the driver of the bus jumped through a window and ran from the bus screaming, “Everybody is dead!”
The cameras captured the commandos, armed with rifles, surrounding the bus and opening an emergency exit, as emergency vehicles converged at the scene in heavy rain.
Police officers threw tear gas inside the bus, apparently forcing Mr. Mendoza to go near the bus’s main door, which they had torn down. Shots were heard and in a split second the body of a man — presumably Mr. Mendoza — was seen slumped by the door.
Several of the unharmed were taken off the bus through the emergency exit, visibly shaken, some of them crying. New York Times