Gunman takes dozens hostage in popular Manila shopping mall

Members of a police SWAT team take positions outside one of the entrances to a mall after a hostage situation was reported in suburban Manila on March 2, 2020.

MANILA - A gunman is holding dozens hostage at a popular shopping mall in a city east of Manila on Monday (March 2).

At least one person has been shot and taken to hospital, San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora told reporters.

Brigadier-General Johnson Almazan, head of the Eastern Police District, said gunshots were heard at V-Mall in San Juan's Greenhills commercial district just before noon.

Thousands of shoppers, vendors and mall staff fled for the exit.

Mr Zamora said a security guard who used to work at the mall was holding some 30 hostages.

The guard was fired from his job, and had not been seen in days.

He returned on Monday to "make some demands", said Mr Zamora.

"He was trying to convince other guards to join him in some sort of coup d'etat against the mall management," he said.

Mr Zamora said the suspect appeared to have brought grenades with him.

Videos posted on social media show police cars at the mall entrance, and hundreds of onlookers. The mall's doors had all been locked.

Mr Zamora himself was at the scene trying to negotiate with the gunman.

V-Mall is a popular shopping centre for those looking for cheap handphones and electronic items, and knock-offs of expensive brands.

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.