MANILA // Sixteen people died after suspected robbers engaged police in a shoot-out outside the headquarters of a transport firm in a Manila suburb, police said today. Motorway police and special operatives acting on an informant's tip were deployed to the transport firm's office but were spotted by the robbers and met by a volley of gunfire, according to the police chief inspector Glenn Tigson's official report.
Eight robbers inside a sport utility vehicle died on the spot after the policemen returned fire. A second vehicle with two thieves on board sped away during the crossfire but was chased by the police. The two robbers later abandoned their vehicle and grabbed a motorcycle from a passing motorist but were intercepted by police who shot and killed the suspects on the spot. A father and his seven-year-old daughter on board a passing sport utility vehicle were also hit in the crossfire and later died. Two other people manning a lorry near the office of the transport firm also died from gunshot wounds.
The police report said one member of the police's elite special action force and the transport firm's security guard also died after being hit in the crossfire. Two police officers were wounded, including the chief of the police motorway patrol group's special operations unit. Police recovered four M16 rifles, two .45 calibre guns, hand-held radios, ammunition and a police jacket in the robbers' vehicle.
Police are investigating the possibility that the robbers may have been former police officers involved in a spate of bank heists, Chief Superintendent Perfecto Palad, director of the police motorway patrol group told reporters. "They are ruthless criminals who will not hesitate to kill at the slightest provocation," Mr Palad said. Leopoldo Bataoil, the Manila police chief, told reporters he has ordered an inquiry into the shoot-out after receiving complaints from witnesses and relatives of the victims that the passing motorists were hit by police.