Philippine officers demand President Arroyo's resignation
(11/29/07 - MANILA, Philippines) -- Philippine troops and SWAT teams stormed an upscale hotel that dissident military officers commandeered today after walking out of their coup trial and demanding that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo resign.
At least two people were injured as troops and SWAT teams assaulted the Peninsula hotel. An armored personnel carrier, earlier used as cover by the security forces, was used to crash through the roped-shut lobby entrance.
"For the safety of everyone, we're going out ... because we cannot live with our conscience if some of you get hurt in the crossfire," Antonio Trillanes, one of the officers on trial, told reporters. "
The first shots erupted about 75 minutes after a deadline passed for the men to surrender. After the sound of breaking glass, tear gas began wafting through the lobby, and those inside covered their faces with cloths soaked in water.
At least one dissident soldier, distinguishable by a red armband, crouched inside the hotel lobby, his finger near the trigger of an M-16 rifle. Many journalists refused a request from the president's spokesman that they leave.
Joined by other dissident officers and leaders from the opposition and the left, the coup defendants made phone calls and sent cell phone text messages seeking to generate crowds to support them.
But as the day wore on and hotel guests were evacuated, few people turned out for the latest effort to oust Arroyo, who has survived at least three coup plots and three impeachment efforts during nearly seven tumultuous years in power.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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