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Apparent attack on Manila resort has Philippines on edge

Jereek Espíritu-cc
Resorts World Manila
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Reports of explosions, shots being fired lead to lockdown of complex near capital’s airport

Update: Although the Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack, Philippine police insist the incident was not terror-related, CNN reported. Thirty-six people died in the incident, but most deaths were due to smoke inhalation. A lone gunman entered the Resorts World Manila, firing shots from an assault rifle and setting fire to tables. Terrified patrons and employees, perhaps overly sensitive to recent incidents of terrorism around the world, including the Southern Philippines, tried to escape, and some locked themselves into a restroom. The gunman stole high-value gambling chips, was wounded in a firefight with security guards, and retreated into a hotel room where he doused a bed he was lying on in gasoline and shot himself.

A popular tourist resort in the Philippines is asking for prayers as police respond to reports of explosions and shootings there.

“The company is working closely with the Philippine National Police to ensure that all guests and employees are safe,” the resort complex tweeted, according the CNN. “We ask for your prayers during these difficult times.”

A masked gunman was on the second floor of one of the hotels of Resorts World Manila, reportedly firing at guests, hotel employees fleeing the scene told CNN Philippines. Heavily-armed SWAT officers wearing bulletproof vests and body armor descended on the scene, Camille Abadicio of CNN Philippines said.

The apparent attack comes in the wake of several terrorist incidents in the past week, including an ongoing situation in the south of the Philippines.

The attack started sometime after midnight on Friday. All terminals at Ninoy Aquino International Airport, which is about a mile away, were placed on lockdown.

Resorts World Manila, a sprawling complex, consists of hotels, restaurants and bars. It’s popular with tourists because of its casino, cinema and stores, which include several Western retailers.

The Philippine Red Cross told The Manila Times that at least 25 people were injured in the attack.

Fox News reported that at least three eyewitnesses told local radio that men ran into the resort complex with guns, claiming to be part of ISIS while shooting at people and rounding up foreigners. Local media reported the men were allowing Filipinos to leave the hotel:

The group of men reportedly screamed ISIS slogans, and then poured a flammable substance on gaming tables in the high-end gaming area. …

Around 30 to 40 minutes after intially storming the hotel complex, there was a firefight reported between responding police and the gunmen, according to local media.

 

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