Hostage-taker killed as drama ends

August 23, 2010
MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE 4) It’s over. The dismissed policemen who held over 20 foreign tourists hostage for close to 12 hours was killed by sniper fire, according to a television report.

It was not clear whether there were survivors from those taken hostage Monday by Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza who demanded his reinstatement after he was dismissed on drug-related offenses, which he denied.

Mendoza’s bloodied body clad in fatigue pants and a red jacket which was used to cover the hostage-takers face has been taken away from the site and brought to the Ospital ng Maynila (Manila Hospital).

The law enforcers broke the windows and tried to enter the door of the stalled bus but were stopped by gunshots coming from inside the bus, footage showed.

Bursts of gunfire were heard from inside the tourist bus as lawmen have gone to the backdoor to force it open in the hope of seizing Mendoza and rescuing his hostages, footage on GMA Network showed.

A bystander, identified as a 10-year-old boy, was hurt following the gunshots and was brought to the hospital for treatment, according to the television report.

A police car moved closer while members of the raiding team continued to break into the back of the vehicle, video showed.

Ambulances have surrounded the bus.

The law enforcers initially broke the windows and tried to enter the front door of the stalled bus but were stopped by gunshots coming from inside.

Mendoza seized the tourist bus with over 20 Chinese nationals early Monday morning in Manila to demand his reinstatement into the force.

Mendoza was dismissed due to drug-related offenses but he denied the charges.

Earlier, the bus driver, identified as Alberto Lubang, 38, was able to escape despite being handcuffed to the wheel says told police that some of the hostages have been killed by Mendoza.

In an interview, Aida Beltejar of the Philippine National Red Cross who was able to talk to Lubang after his escape, said that the driver claims some of the passengers have been killed but no exact number was given.

She added that Lubang is in a state of trauma and was partly deaf due to the loud gunshot sounds.

Quoting Lubang, Beltejar said that the driver pleaded several times to Mendoza to be freed adding that he was eventually released since he was Filipino.

Nine hostages have been released earlier and at least 17 Chinese Nationals were left on the bus with Mendoza.

The armalite-wielding suspect, has earlier freed eight other hostages identified as, photographer Danilo Medril, 64, tour guide Rigor Cruz, 73-year-old Lee See Que (Lee See Kyu in some reports), Tsang Yee Lai, 40, and her children Fu Chang Yin, 4, Fu Chak Yin, 10, and family friend Wong Ching Nat, 12, Diana Chan. Another unidentified woman was also released at around 10:30 am.

A national police statement said at least 22 tourists from Hong Kong were on board the bus. The statement said that, aside from the driver, they were believed to be the only people aboard the bus. Earlier reports said that aside from the 22 Chinese nationals, three Filipinos were on board the bus.

Earlier, broadcast commentator Erwin Tulfo arrived at the Quirino Grandstand at around 3:45 p.m. on Monday to help in negotiating with Mendoza, for the release of his foreign hostages and a Filipino bus driver.

Tulfo arrived at the scene and entered the cordoned area after Mendoza posted another message on the bus where he has been holding foreign tourists and a Filipino driver, captive: "Media now."

Tulfo was briefed by the police about the situation before he approached the tourist bus carrying the hostages.

Mendoza posted the "Media now" message some 30 minutes after 3 p.m., the hour by which police negotiators and media were expecting something to happen following a message from Mendoza that stated "Big deal will start after 3 p.m. today."

Earlier in the day, Mendoza posted the message: "Big mistake to correct a big wrong decision.

It was not clear what the armalite-wielding hostage-taker exactly meant by these messages, as police negotiators continued to work to convince Mendoza to let the hostages go.

Negotiators had hooked up a phone line to the bus to facilitate negotiations with Mendoza.

As of late Monday afternoon, the bus’ gasoline supply had been replenished at least two times.

Superintendent Orlando Yebra and Chief Inspector Romeo Salvador have taken the lead in the negotiations with the hostage taker.

Background information obtained by the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Mendoza shows he has been facing charges for manhandling a suspect before the Office of the Ombudsman.

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