March 2, 2020 / 7:48 AM / a month ago

Sacked security guard holds dozens hostage at Philippine mall

MANILA (Reuters) - A Philippine security guard, sacked from his job at a shopping mall in the capital, Manila, shot a man and took dozens of people hostage on Monday, as police and negotiators tried to end the standoff.

The gunman who has hostaged at least a dozen people shows a grenade on a video call with a policeman, witnessed by members of the media outside a mall in San Juan City, Metro Manila, Philippines, March 2, 2020. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

The man entered the administration office of V-Mall in Manila’s San Juan City armed with a pistol and was shouting that he was carrying a grenade, according to mayor Francis Zamora. The man that he shot was stable in hospital, he added.

The gunman, Archie Paray, later gave assurances that the hostages would be released without harm, provided that the authorities did not try to trick him.

He was sacked by the company that provides security for the mall and had tried to get other guards involved in what mayor Zamora said was “some sort of coup d’etat against the mall management”.

Though major hostage incidents are rare in the Philippines, memories are fresh of when a sacked policeman hijacked a Manila bus full of Hong Kong tourists in 2010, and was killed in a gunfight together with eight passengers when police bungled a rescue.

A SWAT team was seen entering the four-storey V-Mall as shoppers were evacuated and crowds of media gathered behind a security cordon.

Among Paray’s demands was the opportunity to speak to former colleagues and to media by video call. The negotiators agreed.

Late in the afternoon, a guard held up a smartphone to media during which the gunman panned his camera around the room to show that the hostages were alive. He declined to say how many he was holding.

“Just wait, they will come out alive,” he said.

Mall staff later handed out a few radios to reporters to allow them to ask Paray questions.

Reporting by Eloisa Lopez, Neil Jerome Morales and Karen Lema; Writing Martin Petty; Editing by Michael Perry, Robert Birsel

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