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Philippines Promises Full Accounting for Deaths of Hong Kong Tourists


Top Philippine officials will travel to Beijing to deliver the results of an investigation into the handling of a hostage incident that left eight Hong Kong tourists dead.

Vice President Jejomar Binay and Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo promised a thorough investigation of the incident during an airport news conference Tuesday with a delegation that had flown in from China.

They said they will personally deliver the results of that probe.

Beijing and Hong Kong officials have been sharply critical of the handling of the hostage incident in Manila. A worldwide television audience watched as Philippine police hammered at the windows of a tour bus while the gunman shot his hostages inside.

China and Hong Kong both have warned their citizens not to travel to the Philippines, dealing a potential blow to the nation's tourism industry.

Philippine officials have defended their handling of the incident, saying the former police captain who seized the bus had given signs he would end the affair peacefully.

But a retired Philippine police general told Reuters news agency that the rescue operation should have been "swift and precise." Instead, he said, it was "comical."

Gunman Rolando Mendoza released a number of children and aged and infirm hostages during the 12-hour siege, and accepted food and fuel from police negotiators.

It is not clear what prompted him to open fire, killing eight hostages and wounding seven. All were tourists from Hong Kong.

A police sniper ended the rampage by shooting Mendoza in the head.

The former police captain had once been honored as one of the nation's top 10 policemen, but he was fired last year following accusations that he tried to extort money from a hotel chef.

Mendoza's brother said the former officer felt the charges were unjust, and he seized the bus in an attempt to clear his name.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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