Hostage drama in Philippines ends

March 29, 2007, Thursday/ 18:52:00/ REUTERS
Gunmen freed 31 children and two teachers held hostage in a bus in the Philippine capital Manila for over nine hours on Wednesday and surrendered without violence.
Scores of onlookers lit candles outside the bus, parked in front of Manila City Hall, just before 7 p.m. (1100 GMT), the time the hostage-takers had said they would surrender. A minute after the deadline, the door of the bus opened and children, many carrying school bags and toys, were lifted and handed over to waiting policemen, live television showed. Onlookers cheered and many said they sympathized with the hostage-takers, one of whom said he wanted to highlight corruption in the Philippines and the lack of educational opportunities for poor children. One man from within the bus handed over what appeared to be two grenades to a negotiator. He and another man also believed to be a hostage-taker were whisked away by police.

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