CAIRO: IS has claimed responsibility for an attack on a casino in the Philippine capital Manila that killed at least 36 people on Friday, the group’s Amaq news agency said, after officials said there was no evidence of militant involvement. A gunman burst into the Resorts World Manila entertainment complex on Friday, firing shots, setting gaming tables alight and killing at least 36 people, all suffocating in thick smoke, in what officials have believed was a botched robbery.“IS fighters carried out the Manila attack in the Philippines,” the news agency said.
There was no evidence linking the attack at the Resorts World Manila entertainment complex to fighting between government troops and militants in the country’s south, said Ernesto Abella, a spokesman for President Rodrigo Duterte.
“All indications point to a criminal act by an apparently emotionally disturbed individual,” Abella told a news conference. “Although the perpetrator gave warning shots, there apparently was no indication that he wanted to do harm or shoot anyone.”
The gunman killed himself in his hotel room after being shot and wounded by resort security, police and Resorts World management said. A second “person of interest” who was in the casino at the time was cooperating with the investigation, police said.
Most of the dead suffocated in the chaos. Fire bureau spokesman Ian Manalo said many guests and staff had tried to hide from the gunfire rather than get out of the building when attack began shortly after midnight and fell victim to the choking smoke.
Oscar Albayalde, chief of the capital’s police office, said those who died were in the casino’s main gaming area.
“What caused their deaths is the thick smoke,” he told reporters. “The room was carpeted and of course the tables, highly combustible.”
A Resorts World Manila official said the dead included 22 guests.
At dawn, the body of the suspected gunman was found in a hotel room in the smouldering complex, which is close to Ninoy Aquino International Airport and an air force base, police said. “He burned himself inside the hotel room 510,” national police chief Ronald dela Rosa told a news conference. “He lay down on the bed, covered himself in a thick blanket and apparently doused himself in gasoline.”
Resorts World Manila Chief Operating Officer Stephen Reilly said casino security guards had shot and wounded the gunman — armed with what authorities described as a “baby armalite” — during the attack.
“Severe loss of blood from the gunshot wound significantly slowed down the assailant and resulted to his holing up in the room where he took his own life,” Reilly said.
Officials said at least 54 people were hurt, some seriously, as they rushed to escape what was at first was believed to have been a militant attack.
Survivor Magdalena Ramos, who was a guest at the hotel, said people began shouting “ISIS! ISIS!” when the gunfire began. The 57-year-old said she hid in a kitchen and then fled when the smoke became too thick.
But police quickly said they did not believe the attacker had any militant connections. “We cannot attribute this to terrorism,” national police chief dela Rosa told DZMM radio. — Reuters