Date
17 October 2017
Hotel guests and employees stand along a road as smoke billows from Resorts World casino complex in Pasay City, Metro Manila, on Friday. Photo: Reuters
Hotel guests and employees stand along a road as smoke billows from Resorts World casino complex in Pasay City, Metro Manila, on Friday. Photo: Reuters

Gunman kills self after spreading panic at Manila casino

A gunman killed himself after bursting into a Manila casino, firing shots and setting gaming tables alight, Philippine police said, sowing panic in a country on high alert after martial law was declared in the south.

Police said the man’s motive was likely robbery and that the incident was not terror-related, Reuters reports.

National police chief Ronald dela Rosa told DZMM radio the lone gunman had not aimed his assault rifle at people at the Resorts World Manila entertainment complex during the hours-long drama that began shortly after midnight, and may have been trying to steal casino chips.

Around dawn, the body of the suspected gunman was found in a hotel room in the complex, which is close to Ninoy Aquino International Airport and an air force base.

Police said it appeared the suspect had killed himself after firing at officers searching the still-smoking building.

“Our assessment is he burned himself. He committed suicide,” Oscar Albayalde, chief of the capital’s police office, said in a radio interview.

Officials said at least 30 people were hurt, some seriously, as they rushed to escape what at first had been feared as a militant attack.

“Don’t panic, this is not a cause for alarm. We cannot attribute this to terrorism,” Dela Rosa said.

“We are looking into a robbery angle because he did not hurt any people and went straight to the casino chips storage room. He parked at the second floor and barged into the casino, shooting large TV screens and poured gasoline on a table setting it on fire,” he said.

Police said the gunman was tall with a pale complexion and spoke English.

A Reuters witness saw armed police entering a hotel near the complex. Videos posted earlier on social media showed people fleeing as several loud bangs were heard.

Jeri Ann Santiago, who works in the emergency room at the San Juan de Dios hospital, close to Resorts World, said 13 people were being treated, but more were on the way.

Most of the patients were suffering the effects of smoke inhalation and some had injuries such as fractures, she said, adding that none had gunshot wounds.

Kimberly Molitas, a spokeswoman for the capital’s police office, said 113 million Philippine pesos (US$2.27 million) worth of casino chips stolen during the raid had been recovered.

The Philippines has been on heightened alert amid a crisis in the south of the country, where troops have been battling Islamist rebels since May 23.

President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law on the southern island of Mindanao last week.

US President Donald Trump said Washington was closely monitoring events unfolding in Manila.

The US embassy in Manila told Americans there to exercise caution and to review their personal security.

Dozens of police trucks and a handful of huge Special Action Force vans and armored personnel carriers lined side streets near the hotel, casino and shopping mall complex as the drama unfolded.

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CG

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