Bus assault 'badly prepared': French expert

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Aug 24 2010 04:18 AM | Updated as of Aug 24 2010 12:20 PM

PARIS - A police assault on a bus of tourists taken hostage in the Philippines Monday was "badly prepared and risky", a French expert said, after eight hostages and the gunman were killed.

The police who stormed the bus in Manila did not have specialist training and "visibly lacked adequate equipment and tactical competence," said Frederic Gallois, who once commanded France's elite hostage rescue unit.

After seeing live television images of the operation, the former colonel told AFP that "one cannot understand what justified this badly prepared and risky assault."

The police, for example, did not attempt a surprise tactic like entering the bus at several points and had also stayed too long outside the vehicle before launching their assault, he said.

A disgruntled ex-policeman armed with an M-16 assault rifle hijacked the bus. Police said he used some of the hostages as "human shields" before he was shot dead by a sniper.

At least eight Hong Kong tourists were killed in the drama which ended when police stormed the bus, firing dozens of bullets into the vehicle.

Gallois was the commander of the National Gendarmerie Intervention Group between 2002 and 2007.

The unit in 1994 freed 173 passengers and crew from a plane hijacked by four Algerian Islamists, who were killed in the operation.