Hong Kong criticizes handling of Manila hostage crisis

HONG KONG Mon Aug 23, 2010 12:02pm EDT

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HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong's leader Donald Tsang criticized the handling of a hostage crisis in the Philippine capital on Monday in which seven Hong Kong tourists were killed after police commandos stormed the bus they were held in for more than 10 hours.

A gunman, identified as 55-year-old ex-police captain Rolando Mendoza who was armed with an M-16 assault rifle, held 15 tourists hostage on a wide road in Manila's biggest park in the morning.

Two more hostages were seriously wounded.

"It is most regrettable," said Tsang who appeared close to tears during a press conference. "The way it was handled, particularly the outcome, I find is disappointing," said Tsang.

Others in Hong Kong reacted with shock and some anger after what appeared to an ineffective rescue operation, with thousands glued to their television sets as live footage of the hostage drama played on local television for much of the day.

Such hostage incidents are extremely rare for residents of the financial hub and former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Police commandos could be seen breaking the windows of the bus minutes after a series of gunshots were heard and the driver of the bus was seen running to safety.

The commandos then struggled repeatedly to smash their way into the bus for over half an hour. As they did so, further gunshots could be heard, causing the officers to duck down and take cover. After around an hour the gunman was eventually killed and the hostages freed.

"It's a tragedy and a farce," said Kevin Chan, a Hong Kong resident. "Why did it take them so long to get into the bus? They're not well disciplined and trained. Are they crazy?"

Another Hong Kong resident Sunny Ho said things could have been handled through calmer negotiations rather than brute force.

"It's really tragic, the Philippine police and government are totally incompetent. The government should have agreed to the request of the gunman and rescued the people first!" Ho said.

A batch of hostages including three children were earlier freed. "I hope the Philippines government can give me a full account of what happened," Tsang said.

(Reporting by James Pomfret; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

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Comments (3)
PetiteZ wrote:
According to the live broadcast,it is so obivious that the gunman was killed by himself rather than killed by police commandos !!

Stupid Philippine police !

Aug 24, 2010 2:56am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Prof_dave wrote:
I’m a Filipino, we’re sorry for what happened, nobody wants it. i would just like to correct the above statement, the gunman was killed by the policemen it has been confirmed by the media and was proven based on the autopsy. the policemen tried their very best, but i must admit they lack proper training and equipments, so please don’t call them stupid. they risk their lives trying to save and prevent casualties.

Aug 25, 2010 7:37am EDT  --  Report as abuse
RaphaelCHW wrote:
Did you guys see what really happened on TV? It was broaddcasted live on TV in Hong Kong and your police was acting worse than laymen. I really can’t see how they risked their lives. They were just hiding behind a car. What’s more, isn’t it sheer stupidity not to prepare masks before they threw in the tear gas? Any planning beforehand? Any brain?

Most of us in Hong Kong don’t feel any remorse from the Filipino. We only see Filipinos taking pictures before the tourist bus with happy faces after the incident treating this like a joyous event. Do you think this is a festival? A new tourist attraction? People died unnecessarily. Please respect lives.

Aug 25, 2010 11:04am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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