Philippines pressed for Hong Kong hostage apology

The families of eight Hong Kong tourists who were killed in a Philippine hostage crisis renewed their demand for an apology from Manila on Thursday as they marked the tragedy's second anniversary.

The relatives and survivors observed a minute's silence and chanted "We will never forget" as they handed a petition to the Philippines consulate.

"We're very angry and disappointed," said Tse Chi-hang, brother of tour guide Masa Tse who was killed when a sacked policeman seized a bus packed with tourists in a desperate bid to be reinstated to his job.

"From the beginning to the end, our request remains the same -- that the Philippine government should apologise to the victims and their families."

After lengthy negotiations and a bungled assault on the bus, the hostage-taker and eight tourists were killed and seven others were wounded in an incident that was broadcast live on television around the world.

The apparent incompetence of the police raiders outraged the Hong Kong and Chinese governments, which demanded formal explanations from Manila.

Hong Kong maintains a travel warning for the Philippines, citing the hostage crisis. The southern Chinese city has also complained about the light penalties meted out to officials involved in the operation.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino has expressed regret and admitted the crisis should have been handled better, but refused to apologise when the victims' families travelled to the site of the incident in Manila last year.


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