Gunmen release Philippine bank hostages, surrender

AP News
Posted: Oct 13, 2011 6:39 AM
Gunmen release Philippine bank hostages, surrender

Gunmen who held six hostages inside a bank for three hours surrendered peacefully Thursday after a botched robbery in a crowded commercial district south of Manila, officials said.

The four gunmen gave themselves up after being assured of their safety, said Mayor Strike Revilla of Bacoor township in Cavite province.

Provincial police chief John Bulalacao said the gunmen had held five employees, including a security guard, and one depositor. He said no one was hurt.

The gunmen, armed with two pistols, barged into the Masuwerte Rural Bank of Bacoor at noon after overpowering the security guard and taking his shotgun and pistol. After scooping cash into a bag, the gunmen attempted to escape through a back door, but police were already on the scene, Bulalacao said.

"They saw policemen surrounding the bank, their guns pointed at them," Bulalacao told The Associated Press. "They ran back to the bank and held the people inside as their hostages."

Police commandos ringed the bank on the ground floor of a two-story building and snipers took positions on top of the bank and nearby commercial buildings.

Bulalacao said the gunmen had demanded a get-away vehicle and the presence of journalists to ensure they would not be harmed. After the gunmen freed one hostage, a police negotiator persuaded the gunmen to surrender to avoid bloodshed.

The jittery gunmen relented and walked out of the bank with their hostages, drawing applause from hundreds of people watching nearby.

Last year, President Benigno Aquino III and the national police came under fire for the bungled police rescue of a busload of Hong Kong tourists taken hostage by a dismissed police officer. The hostage-taker killed eight of the tourists before he was fatally shot by snipers.