Canadian hurt in hostage-taking back in Hong Kong

Jason Leung, a Canadian citizen who was badly hurt and lost family members in the deadly Manila bus hostage-taking, has returned to Hong Kong aboard a chartered air ambulance.

'Someone will pay' for hostage-taking, Philippine president vows

Jason Leung, one of the tourist survivors who was injured in Monday's hostage-taking in Manila, arrives at a hospital in Hong Kong on Thursday. ((Kin Cheung/Associated Press))

Jason Leung, a Canadian citizen who was badly hurt and lost family members in the deadly Manila bus hostage-taking, returned to Hong Kong on Thursday aboard a chartered air ambulance.

Leung, 18, arrived from Manila at about 7 p.m. local time, accompanied by a neurosurgeon, said freelance journalist Yuen Chan.

Leung, who suffered a depressed skull fracture, is comatose but improving, officials said.

Doctors were weighing whether to conduct brain surgery on Leung later Thursday night, said Chan.

Physicians at Manila Doctors Hospital were reluctant to allow Leung to leave, freelance reporter Dean Bernardo said in Manila. But doctors from Hong Kong — who flew to Manila to collect Leung — insisted he would recuperate better in a Hong Kong hospital.

From left, Jason Leung stands with his sisters Doris and Jessie Leung, his mother, Amy Ng, and his father, Ken Leung. Doris, Jessie and Ken Leung were killed in the Manila hostage-taking. The couple at the right are the Fans, friends of the Leung family who provided the photo. ((Courtesy of Toronto Star))

Leung, who graduated in June from a school in Mississauga, Ont., had been in stable condition at Manila Doctors Hospital following surgery Tuesday.

Leung's father, Ken, and his sisters, Doris and Jessie, were among the eight tourists killed in the hostage-taking, after a former policeman armed with an M-16 rifle hijacked a bus filled with Hong Kong tourists visiting the Philippine capital.

A police report issued Thursday said Ken Leung died after he was shot in the neck and hands. Jessie was shot through the heart and lung, while Doris was shot in the head.

Solemn tribute

Earlier in the day, hundreds of people bowed their heads in a downtown Hong Kong square Thursday to pay tribute to the eight dead tourists.

Business in the busy Asian financial centre was halted as the Chinese and Hong Kong flags were raised and then lowered to half-mast.

Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang was among the crowd of mourners still shocked by Monday's incident.

Late Wednesday, Hong Kong's acting secretary for food and health, Gabriel Leung, said officials hoped to move him to a Hong Kong hospital as soon as possible.

'Someone will pay'

In Manila on Thursday, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III said forcefully that "someone will pay" for the hostage-taking.

Manila police Chief Rodolfo Magtibay, shown before the Philippine Senate on Thursday, said he was assured by his assault team leader that they were prepared and carrying the right equipment to handle Monday's hostage-taking. ((Romeo Ranoco/Reuters))

Aquino III acknowledged the "many failures" that occurred during what he called the "ghastly" 12-hour standoff between the gunman and police.

"What happened should not happen again," he told a group of students and teachers at a suburban university. "Someone failed, someone will pay."

The Philippine Senate has launched an investigation into how police reacted to the situation.

Manila police Chief Rodolfo Magtibay on Thursday told senators he gave the order to assault the bus after hearing shots following a breakdown in the negotiations with the hostage-taker, who was demanding re-instatement.

Magtibay has taken leave and four leaders of the assault team that eventually stormed the bus have been relieved pending an investigation. Officials have said the firearms used by 200 police commandos will be subjected to ballistic tests to see if some of the hostages were hit by police gunfire.

Magtibay told the senators that he "honestly believed" assurances by his assault team leader that they were prepared and were carrying the right equipment for the operation.

However Miguel Zubiri, a Philippine senator, pointed out the police SWAT team did not have ladders or bus window blasters, and the rope they used as a makeshift tool to pry open the vehicle's door easily snapped.

Another police officer testified that the team did not have a "flash-bang grenade," a standard weapon used by police commandos to stun a hostage-taker.

"It was Band-Aid solutions as we went along, but the element of surprise had already gone," Zubiri said. "If you are a foreigner, you will no longer come to visit the Philippines because you have seen in the news that the police are not adequately trained."

The security committee of Hong Kong's Legislative Council was scheduled to hold its own hearing on the killings Thursday afternoon.

With files from the CBC's Anthony Germain and The Associated Press