A gunman is holding some thirty people hostage at a popular shopping mall in a city east of Manila today (March 2) as thousands of shoppers, vendors and mall staff fled for the exit after gunshots were heard at V-Mall in San Juan's Greenhills commercial district just before noon.
At least one person has been shot and taken to hospital, San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora told The Straits Times.
Mr Zamora said a security guard who used to work at the mall fired at a staff, as he made his way to the mall's administrative office.
He then locked himself inside the office, and held some 30 who were inside as hostages.
The guard was fired from his job weeks ago, and had not been seen since. He returned on Monday to "make some demands", said Mr Zamora.
"He seemed to have taken his firing badly. 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 had shouted that he had grenades with him.
"But we have no way to confirm that. What we can confirm is that he is armed with a pistol… He shot someone, so he's hostile," he said.
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.
The incident evoked memories of a mass shooting last month in Thailand, when a soldier armed with an assault rifle went on a rampage at a military base and a shopping mall there.
He killed at least 29 people and wounded 58.
The gunman's lengthy standoff with authorities ended the next morning, when a raid led to a flurry of gunfire that killed him.