80,000 protest at botched hijack rescue

AN estimated 80,000 Hong Kongers marched yesterday in honour of eight locals killed in a bus hijacking in Manila, denouncing the Philippine government for botching the rescue operation and demanding justice for the dead.

Former Philippine police officer Rolando Mendoza commandeered a bus carrying a 20-member Hong Kong tour group visiting the Manila last week, hoping to reverse his dismissal from the force on what he said were bogus robbery and extortion charges.

Mendoza released several children and elderly hostages early in the 12-hour standoff broadcast live on television, but later opened fire on the tourists. A police sniper shot and killed Mendoza but not before eight tourists were killed by gunfire. Three others were seriously wounded, with one still in a coma.

The Philippines government ordered a thorough investigation into the incident, but that has done little to stem growing anger in this wealthy territory where violent crime is rare.

About 20 Hong Kong legislators led the crowd gathered at a park in a short ceremony honouring the dead before setting off on a march.

“That 80,000 people can show up in such a short period of time – it shows the anger and unity of the Hong Kong people,” lawmaker Cheung Man-kwong said.

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