Updated 11:34 a.m. ET
A 12-hour hostage stand-off on a hijacked Philippine bus ended in bloodshed Monday, with officials saying at least seven Chinese tourists were dead along with the disgruntled ex-policeman who seized their vehicle in a bid to get his job back.
At least six captives survived, four of whom were seen crawling out the back door of the bus after Philippine police stormed it Monday evening when the hostage-taker started shooting at the 15 Chinese tourists inside, said police Senior Superintendent Nelson Yabut.
He said the hostage-taker was killed with a sniper shot to the head after he wounded a police sharpshooter.
Police and ambulances were lined up next to the vehicle in the pouring rain after the standoff ended. Local hospitals reported seven bodies of hostages were brought in. One other hostage was hospitalized in critical condition, and five others were unharmed.
Officials have yet to disclose the fate of the two other hostages.
The crisis began when the dismissed policeman, Rolando Mendoza, 55, armed with a M16 rifle seized the busload of Hong Kong tourists to demand his reinstatement in the force.
According to newspaper reports from 2008, he was among five officers who had been charged with robbery, extortion and grave threats after a Manila hotel chef filed a complaint alleging the policemen falsely accused him of using drugs to extort money.
The gunman released nine hostages during the afternoon - leaving 15 inside - and demanded his job back to free the rest. Despite hopes that negotiations might bring the stand-off to a peaceful conclusion, tensions escalated as night closed in.
Police said they stormed the bus after they saw Mendoza open fire on hostages.
Moments before the commandos moved in, the Filipino driver fled. Police officer Roderick Mariano cited him as saying Mendoza had opened fire at the tourists.
Earlier, police in helmets and flak jackets crouched beside the bus after firing shots at the tires in a bid to immobilize the vehicle and end the standoff. Shots were heard several times and the bus began rolling at one tense moment in the drama.
Hong Thai Travel Services Ltd. General Manager Susanna Lau told Hong Kong's Cable TV the tour group had left the Chinese territory of Hong Kong on Aug. 20 for a visit to Manila and was scheduled to fly back to Hong Kong on Monday. She said a Hong Kong tour guide and 20 tourists from the territory - three children and 17 adults - were on the bus. There were also four Filipinos on board.
Mendoza hitched a ride on the bus from the historic walled city of Intramuros and then "declared he is taking the passengers hostage" when it reached Jose Rizal Park alongside Manila Bay, police said.
The area also includes the seaside U.S. Embassy and a number of hotels.
Mendoza's younger brother, Gregorio, also a policeman, said that his brother felt that "injustice was done on him."
"He was disappointed that he did well in police service but was dismissed for a crime he did not do," he said.
Lo also reports that Gregorio Mendoza has told reporters he fears being accused of acting as an accessory to the hostage-taking and would be killed by police if the hostage-taking situation doesn't end well.
In March 2007, not far from Monday's hostage taking, a man took a busload of children and teachers hostage from his day-care center in Manila to denounce corruption. They were freed after a 10-hour standoff.