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Hotel standoff ends: Philippines counters yet another coup attempt

A brief face-off with rebel troops at a five-star hotel in Manila prompts a weary sense of déjà vu.

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A dramatic coup attempt in the Philippines Thursday ended in seven hours when elite Army forces stormed a luxury hotel in downtown Manila, capturing rebel troops who had holed up there along with some staff and journalists. Two people were injured but there were no casualties.

The coup, staged by mutinous soldiers already on trial for a similar try in 2003, is the latest attempt to dislodge Philippines president Gloria Arroyo, whom dissidents accuse of corruption.

The drama began as a number of former soldiers were being taken away from the courthouse where they had been standing trial, reports The Times (London). About two dozen soldiers took over the Peninsula Hotel in the Makati financial district of the capital.

Military police made no apparent effort to stop the plotters, and some even went with the rebels as they left the courthouse and occupied the hotel.
There the plotters, joined by others who had not been standing trial, and estimated to number anywhere between 12 and 30, forebade guests from leaving and started issuing demands for President Arroyo to resign.

The soldiers called a press conference soon after, reports Al Jazeera.

… Brigadier Danilo Lim, a former commander of the elite Scout Rangers unit, had said the group was taking control of the government.
"We make this fateful step of removing Mrs Macapagal Arroyo from the presidency and undertake the formation of a new government," he said.

Army troops and police soon had the hotel surrounded, reports Reuters.


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