( Reuters ) - An armoured personnel carrier battered down the doors to the lobby of a luxury hotel in Manila where two dozen mutinous Philippine soldiers were holed up along with stranded journalists, staff and possibly some guests.
Elite forces were swarming outside the teargas-filled lobby of the Peninsula Hotel, in the heart of Manila's Makati financial district.
Around two dozen rebel troops, calling for the overthrow of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, were in the hotel, along with a number of journalists and hotel staff. It was unclear how many guests, if any, were still in their hotel rooms.
The rebel soldiers, who had earlier stopped people from leaving the hotel lobby as a 3 p.m. (0700 GMT) deadline for them to end their mutiny passed, later relented and allowed them to go out.
"We will have to wait and see how things unfold," one of the leaders of the mutiny told local television when asked if the rebel soldiers would retaliate if the hotel was stormed.
Hundreds of soldiers and police have taken up positions around the hotel. Additional troops were ready to be deployed.
Around half of the soldiers holed up in the hotel were facing trial for a failed mutiny in 2003. They walked out of their courtroom on Thursday, followed by some of their guards, and marched to the hotel.
The mutiny is being led by Senator Antonio Trillanes, Brigadier-General Danilo Lim, and former vice president Teofisto Guingona.
Trillanes, then a navy officer, was one of the leaders of the failed mutiny in 2003, when junior officers took over a luxury apartment tower not far from the Peninsula.
Some of the rebel soldiers wore red armbands with a sun logo, similar to an insignia worn during the 2003 mutiny, which ended peacefully.
Arroyo on Thursday ordered the army to re-arrest the soldiers and military chief General Hermogenes Esperon said all means would be used.
The Philippines has seen more than a dozen coup attempts since the overthrow of President Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and residents of Manila are used to varying degrees of unrest. Thursday's drama attracted some curious onlookers.
Arroyo, deeply unpopular due to long-running corruption allegations, has survived at least two coup plots and three impeachment bids because of a jaded middle class sick of political instability, and a strong majority in the lower house.
The stock market and the peso pared earlier gains on the soldiers' actions.
The main index finished up 1.17 percent after earlier climbing 2.8 percent.
"It hurts the whole country," Vivian Yuchengco, a director of the Philippine Stock Exchange, said. "People like that should be thrown in jail."