Asia-Pacific

Hong Kong protest over Manila hostage deaths

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Media captionThe rally was organised by both pro-Beijing and pro-democracy political parties

Thousands of people joined a rally in Hong Kong to express their anger at the Philippines' handling of last week's tourist coach hijacking.

They were demanding an explanation of how eight Hong Kong tourists were killed in the hostage-taking in Manila.

Their coach was hijacked by a disgraced ex-policeman, Rolando Mendoza, who was killed as police attempted to rescue the hostages.

Earlier, about 1,000 people in the Philippines attended his funeral.

Mendoza, 55, seized the bus with an assault rifle in an attempt to get back the job he lost in 2009 for extortion and threat-making.

'Shocked and grieved'

The rally was organised by both pro-Beijing and pro-democracy political parties - a rare occasion for them to unite, says the BBC's Annemarie Evans in Hong Kong.

"My feelings were, of course, like those of all Hong Kong people," said the president of Hong Kong's Legislative Council, Tsang Yok-sing.

"We were shocked, we were very much grieved when finally so many of our Hong Kong citizens were killed and we find the way the Philippine authorities handled the situation very unacceptable," he told Hong Kong radio.

Image caption Hong Kong people are demanding an explanation for the handling of the siege

In all, 22 Hong Kong tourists were taken hostage along with three Filipinos - a driver, a guide and a photographer.

Nine people were released in early negotiations but 15 were kept aboard the curtained bus for hours as the hostage drama was played out before live television cameras and broadcast around the world.

"Everyone saw how the Philippine government mishandled the situation before TV cameras and the chaos in the country," Andy Wong, 49, said at Sunday's protest.

"As a Chinese person, I need to demand justice," he told the Associated Press news agency.

Anger

About 200,000 Filipinos work in Hong Kong; some have voiced fears of retribution.

On Sunday night, hundreds of Filipina women employed as domestic helpers held a candlelight vigil on their traditional day off, urging the people of Hong Kong not to take out their anger on them.

"We trust our friends in Hong Kong would not do anything untoward against Filipinos here," the Philippine vice-consul Val Roque said to the AFP news agency.

"But we understand the anger must be released. We hope as the days go by that anger will dissipate."

Police in the Philippines said on Sunday that the hostages were killed by Mendoza's gun and not police weapons during their rescue operation.

As the talks failed and Mendoza became increasingly agitated, police made several unsuccessful attempts to board the coach. Shots could be heard fired from inside the curtained bus and no-one knew how many hostages were still alive.

Survivors and experts have criticised the Manila police for being indecisive and slow in their handling of the crisis.

Anger in Hong Kong has been further fuelled by the news that highly-trained army and police teams who specialised in hostage takings were standing by but not used, says our correspondent.

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