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8 Dead As Philippine Hostage Crisis Ends


Philippine authorities say eight Hong Kong tourists have died at the hands of a disgruntled former police officer who hijacked their bus in central Manila.

The hijacker, Rolando Mendoza, is also dead from a police sniper's bullet to the head. Seven more tourists are being treated at hospitals.

The 12-hour stand-off climaxed late Monday when the bus driver escaped through a window and Mendoza opened fire on his remaining hostages. Police rushed the bus, trying frantically to break through the windows with sledge hammers.

A police sniper finally managed to kill Mendoza, bringing the crisis to an end. Dead and injured hostages were removed to ambulances in a pouring rain.

President Benigno Aquino III defended the police handling of the incident, saying there had been hopes it would end peacefully. But he said he could not be satisfied when people were killed, and promised an investigation.

Police had been encouraged to hope for a peaceful settlement during earlier negotiations. Mendoza released several other passengers -- including children, the sick and the elderly -- while authorities provided food and fuel to run the bus's air conditioning system.

Mendoza had been a highly decorated captain with the Metro Manila police force until he was fired last year on charges of extortion and harassment.

Chief Inspector Erwin Margarejo of the Manila police district told reporters that Mendoza was demanding to have his name cleared and be reinstated.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

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