Philippine Police has probably shot some of the Hong Kong tourists in the Manila hostage drama

Philippine investigators have admitted that police may have shot some of the tourists in a bungled operation that left eight Hong Kong residents dead on a bus in Manila.

President Benigno Aquino said he expected to get the investigators’ final report into the hostage incident on September 15, and pledged to fire officials found to be culpable or file criminal charges against them.

“Our government is now focused on taking the necessary steps to prevent this tragedy from ever happening again,” he said.

Armed with an assault rifle and a pistol, sacked policeman Rolando Mendoza took a busload of tourists hostage on August 23 in a desperate bid to clear himself of extortion charges and get his old job back.

Eight of the tourists were killed and seven others wounded in the central Manila stand-off.

Bullets from afar

Based on initial reports, four of the Hong Kong tourists were killed allegedly by members of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) who stormed the tourist bus where Mendoza held 15 hostages in the early evening of August 23, a source said, adding there was also speculation that bullets fired from afar also hit the ill-fated bus.

Autopsy reports showed that some of the victims did not sustain wounds that could have come from an M-16 rifle, which was carried by the hostage-taker, said the source, adding that some of them were not shot at close range, as claimed by the tourist bus driver.

Another source said the real number of hostages who might have been killed by “friendly-fire” has yet to be determined by further studies.

Ballistic tests

Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, head of the Investigation Incident Review Committee which is investigating the incident, has ordered the fire-testing of all the guns of all the police units deployed in the area during the crisis, to determine whether they matched any of the bullets that killed the hostages.

Meanwhile, a computer simulation showed that shots fired by the police could have hit the hostages, the Manila Standard Today reported.

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