Outrage Over Manila Bus Massacre

Philippine policemen take cover as they start their assault on the tourist bus full of Hong Kong tourists after an ex-policeman hijacked the bus in Manila on August 23, 2010. (Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images)

A 10-hour hostage crisis inside a tourist bus in Manila ended on Monday evening with the armed hijacker—a disgruntled former police officer—and seven passengers killed as negotiations failed and the police made a chaotic bid to storm the vehicle.

Rolando Mendoz, a former police inspector who had been fired from his job in 2008 over extortion and drug charges, hijacked the bus carrying 25 passengers, using an M-16 assault rifle, when he boarded from the walled city of Intramuros. He demanded reinstatement salary dues, but the Manila Police Special Action Team, armed with pistols and rifles, took positions around the bus in a failed attempt to break the front and rear windows using sledge-hammers. Mendoz's demands were not met, resulting in the deaths of seven tourists.

After several rounds of gunshots and the use of teargas canisters, police announced the hostage-taker dead, as ambulances and rescue services surrounded the bus to rush passengers to the hospital.

Eight of those 15 Hong Kong tourists survived. Mendoza, 55, had earlier freed the other tourists during the long negotiations that eventually failed and forced the storming of the bus.

President Benigno Aquino on Tuesday vowed to increase police protection for tourists, amid growing outrage over a hostage crisis. Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said his government was "appalled" and phoned his Philippine counterpart to voice concern. Hong Kong residents expressed outrage and news media there denounced Philippine police as incompetent.

Do you think Manila police, given the circumstances, could have handled the situation involving hostages differently? Leave your comments below.