MANILA, Philippines — It looked like a hostage rescue in slow motion: Police creeping up on the bus with sledgehammers and smashing first one window, then another, then trying and failing to rip open the door.

When they finally got inside, authorities said, they found nine bodies: eight Hong Kong tourists and the ex-policeman who had seized the bus to demand his job back.

The bloody denouement to the 12-hour drama in the heart of the Philippine capital, witnessed live on TV, rattled a country already accustomed to kidnappings and violence blamed on Muslim rebels. It provoked demands from the Hong Kong government for an explanation, and an acknowledgment from Philippine President Benigno Aquino III that his police need more training and equipment.

It was 10:15 a.m. Monday in Manila when Rolando Mendoza, 55 and married with three children, hitched a ride with the tourists as they visited historic sites in the city. He wore a camouflage uniform and carried an M16 rifle but didn’t seem unusual in the heavily policed capital.

Then he announced that he was taking the travelers hostage to win back his job. Mendoza was fired last year but claimed he was innocent.

With the bus parked on a Manila park parade ground, Mendoza demanded media attention and threatened “big deal will start after 3 p.m. today.”

At first, matters proceeded peacefully. The hijacker freed nine hostages, leaving 15 tourists on board.

Then negotiations began to go awry. Mendoza demanded a signed promise that his case would be reviewed, but its delivery was delayed for hours, in part by Manila’s notorious traffic, and when it finally arrived he rejected it as insufficient.

Police made an initial attempt to board the bus, and the hijacker shot and wounded a police sharpshooter. Single shots, then a burst of automatic fire, echoed through the night.

The Filipino bus driver managed to escape and, according to police officer Roderick Mariano, reported that Mendoza had fired at the tourists.

A freed hostage who gave only her surname, Ng, told Hong Kong reporters that she saw her husband killed by Mendoza after he tried to take him on.