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Philippine president extends condolences to victims' families

08-24-2010 08:50 BJT Special Report:Tourists Held Hostage in Manila |

MANILA, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) -- Philippine President Benigno Aquino III said in a statement Monday night that with the rest of the Filipino people, "I wish to offer our deepest condolences to the families of the victims whose lives were lost in the hostage situation at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila."

The Secretary of Foreign Affairs has conveyed our deep feelings of sorrow to the Foreign Minister of the People's Republic of China and the people of Hong Kong through Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang.

"I have tasked Secretaries Soliman and Alfredo Lim to provide everything necessary for the recovery and return home of the survivors. I have directed the fullest cooperation with the Hong Kong authorities on the part of our officials", Aquino said.

"As we know, the incident tragically ended in the deaths of eight innocent civilians", he said.

"We expect more of the facts to come to light and I have ordered Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to thoroughly lead this review," he said.

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.

Early Thursday morning, a chartered plane carrying family members of the 21 Hong Kong tourists involved in the abduction tragedy to the Philippine capital Manila.

Also aboard the chartered plane were medics, community volunteers and psychologists.

The Hong Kong 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.

The 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.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald 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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