A sacked employee has allegedly taken several people hostage in a shopping mall in an upmarket district of Philippines capital Manila. A security guard at the mall, who was shot by the suspect, has been taken to a hospital. Sketchy details from the ongoing hostage crisis show that the suspect was recently fired from his job at the V-Mall in San Juan area of Manila.
The assailant, who was armed with a pistol, opened fire as he entered the administration wing of the mall. The employee has been identified as Archie Paray, one of the security guards at the mall.
Several videos that capture panic among shoppers following the gun attack have appeared online.
One of the videos shows a man being carried by security personnel, while other panic-stricken shoppers can be heard screaming.
"The initial information that we have is, he has firearms and grenades with him", San Juan city mayor Francis Zamora said.
"There is already one (person) that was shot already a while ago and has been rushed to hospital," he added, AFP reported. The victim is reported to be another security guard, who was admitted to a nearby hospital and is in stable condition. Whether the assailant was armed with grenades hasn't been verified by the police.
Police rush to the scene
Heavily armed SWAT commandos entered the mall, even as police personnel surrounded the site. Ambulances were stationed outside and the site was soon evacuated. A police officer is said to have negotiated with the gunman.
"He felt bad because he was removed as a guard", city's mayor told reporters. "Right now, his demands are: First, he wants to talk to his fellow guards at the shopping mall, and second, he wants to face the media. But for now we have a negotiator who is talking to him, and we have evacuated everyone at the shopping mall. So the perimeter is safe, the area is safe, the mall is already in lockdown", the mayor said.
The mall is situated near an upscale residential enclave, a golf club and the police and military headquarters. Manila's malls are often crowded and house not just shops and restaurants, but churches and medical facilities as well.