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Philippine president extends apology to HK chief executive for hostage tragedy

08-24-2010 08:48 BJT Special Report:Tourists Held Hostage in Manila |

MANILA, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) -- Philippine President Benigno Aquino said early Tuesday that he has already asked apology to Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang for what had happened, adding that he has ordered the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs to extend all possible assistance to the victims.

The president made the remarks at a press conference after meeting with police officials and Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim.

Philippine hostage crisis ended here on Monday night with eight hostages were killed, seven injured, one of whom is in critical conditions, Philippine government officials said.

A 21-member Hong Kong tour group aboard a bus was hijacked by a dismissed Filipino policeman earlier in the day.

The hostage-taker, dismissed Police Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza, 55, armed with an M16 rifle, had opened fire at the tourists, was killed after local police assaulted the bus to save the hostages.

Police took the injured to nearby hospitals - Philippine General Hospital, Manila Doctors Hospital and Manila Hospital - for treatment.

The hostage taker released nine hostages during the afternoon and left 15 inside the hijacked tourist bus and demanded his job back. After hours of negotiation between Police and Mendoza, the hostage taker started opening fire at hostages. Police tried to storm the bus and exchanged fire with abductor.

Police said they stormed the bus after they saw Mendoza open fire on hostages.

Moments before Police moved in, the Filipino driver fled. Police officer Roderick Mariano cited him as saying Mendoza had opened fire at the tourists.

On Monday night, Hong Kong is dispatching a chartered plane to carry family members of the 21 Hong Kong tourists involved in the abduction tragedy to the Philippine capital Manila, the city's government said in a statement on Monday evening.

Also aboard the chartered plane would be medics, community volunteers and psychologists, said the statement.

The government also said it has issued the Black Outbound Travel Alert for the Philippines. The black alert is the highest level of Hong Kong's three-sign Outbound Travel Alert system, indicating a "severe threat" exists and all travel to the destination should be avoided.

Hong Kong government said it has asked the city's Travel Industry Council to forward messages to Hong Kong's tour groups still in the Philippines, requiring them to come back to Hong Kong as soon as possible.

Tsang said he was very sad and disappointed over the tragedy and the losses of lives of Hong Kong residents and felt very angry over the deeds of the thug. He extended condolences to the families of those killed and injured in the incident.

Tsang said his government would provide everything needed to assist those families to overcome current difficulties.

Tsang said Hong Kong would lower the flag of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region at half-mast to mourn the death of the tourists, adding that his government would ask the Philippine government to explain the incident.

Also in the day, the Liaison Office of the Chinese Central People's Government and the Commissioner's Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong expressed their shock and sorrow over the tragedy, and extended deep condolences to those dead and their families.

The Commissioner's Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that a 3-member group, led by vice commissioner Gao Yuchen, has joined in the task force set up by the Hong Kong government to take care of the post-incident issues.

Editor:Du Xiaodan |Source: Xinhua

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