According to Philippine authorities, they found nine bodies: eight Hong Kong tourists and the ex-policeman who had seized the bus to demand his job back.
It was 10:15 a.m. Monday in Manila when Rolando Mendoza, 55 and married with three children, hitched a ride with the tourists as they visited historic sites in the city. He wore a camouflage uniform and carried an M16 rifle but didn’t seem unusual in the heavily policed capital.
Then he announced that he was taking the travelers hostage to win back his job. According to newspaper reports, the former senior inspector was among five officers who had been charged with robbery, extortion and grave threats after a Manila hotel chef filed a complaint alleging they falsely accused him of using drugs to extort money. Mendoza was fired last year but claimed he was innocent.
Nine hostages were freed — three women, three children and two men — leaving 15 tourists on board. Police sealed the area and brought food for the hostages, along with fuel to keep the bus’ air conditioning running in the 32-degree-Celsius (90 F) heat. Then negotiations began to go awry. Mendoza demanded a signed promise that his case would be reviewed, but its delivery was delayed for hours, in part by Manila’s notorious traffic, and when it finally arrived he rejected it as insufficient.
Yabut, the assault commander, said that “when he started shooting the hostages, that’s the time I gave the signal to my sniper to shoot when there is a clear view.” He said Mendoza died of a single shot to the head.
Shortly before 9 p.m., police lobbed tear gas into the bus and commandos approached the vehicle, crouching beside it and ready to storm it. They smashed windows and the back door with sledgehammers. Once aside, they found only the dead, one of them slumped on the bus steps. The Hong Kong government did not hide its displeasure at the handling of the incident. It issued a warning against travel to the Philippines, canceled planned tour groups to the islands and asked Hong Kong tourists still in the country to leave. The bloodbath happened in front of a grandstand where Aquino had been sworn in as president on June 30. After midnight he was back there, staring at the bloodstained, bullet-riddled bus.
The country witnessed live on TV, rattled people who are already accustomed to a history of kidnappings (especially in the Chinese-Filipino community) and violence blamed on Muslim rebels. It provoked demands from the Hong Kong government for an explanation, and an acknowledgment from Philippine President Benigno Aquino III that his police need more training and equipment. For more on this story click here.
Warning: This video contains graphic, raw footage of what will most likely be used in every SWAT training facility around the world of how NOT to screw up a hostage rescue attempt.