A terrorist attack appears underway at Resorts World Manila, in the Philippine capital, with reports of masked gunmen firing at guests and hotel employees alike. The government has dispatched rescue workers and SWAT teams to the site. The hotel has reported itself to be on lockdown.
Update, 17:30 PM EST: “Don’t panic, this is not a cause for alarm. We cannot attribute this to terrorism,” said Chief Dela Rosa in a radio interview. “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 described the suspect as “foreign-looking, a Caucasian, about six feet tall,” and said a bag full of stolen casino chips taken by the gunman has been recovered.
Update, 17:00 PM EST: CNN quotes Resorts World Manila Chief Operating Officer Stephen Reilly also saying one suspect was involved in the assault, and police are hunting him inside the resort buildings. The report also says emergency personnel have treated people at the scene for smoke inhalation and bruises, and the Philippines Red Cross transported three people to hospitals, but there are no reports of gunshot wounds.
Update, 16:45 PM EST: Contradicting earlier reports, Australia’s 9News quotes police chief Ronald dela Rosa saying no one was shot during the incident, and the attacker appeared to be a lone individual. In this account, the attacker fired into the air, shot a television screen, and fired some rounds into a stock room full of gambling chips with an M4 rifle. He also set a gambling table on fire with gasoline, as an eyewitness reported earlier. The assailant is reportedly still at large.
Chief Dela Rosa said the gunman left with a backpack full of gambling chips, suggesting the motive for the assault might have been robbery. He said the civilians taken to the hospital from the scene were suffering from smoke inhalations and bruises, the latter presumably incurred during the stampede to escape. He said there was no indication hostages have been taken.
Update, 3:45 PM EST: President Trump began his afternoon press conference by offering America’s thoughts and prayers to victims of the Manila attack. The president said, in his characteristic style, that it is “really sad what’s going on throughout the world with terror.”
Update, 3:00 PM EST: A spokesman for the Philippine Army said the police were in control of the situation at the resort, but added that the military was monitoring the situation closely.
Update, 2:50 PM EST: Another amateur video captures the panicked response to the attack, as screaming people flee the casino:
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) June 1, 2017
Update, 2:45 PM EST: Fox News quotes eyewitnesses who say a group of men wearing black uniforms and hoods, carrying long weapons, stormed the hotel:
— Fox News (@FoxNews) June 1, 2017
The White House stated that President Trump is aware of the situation and is consulting with his national security team.
Original post follows:
Resorts World Manila, located conveniently to the airport in Pasay City, is actually a collection of hotels and restaurants, along with a casino and shopping mall.
Early reports indicate at least one masked man was seen shooting at guests on the second floor of the building. Some witnesses also reported hearing explosions. Gunfire could be heard in the background as frightened civilians fled the scene in videos posted on social media.
Total panic outside Resort World Manila following reports of ISIS attack. pic.twitter.com/5GI3HdybGC
— Josh Caplan (@joshdcaplan) June 1, 2017
One witness reported that the attackers doused casino tables with a flammable liquid and set them on fire. Fires have also been reported on the second floor of the building. An eyewitness who heard gunshots and hid on the 3rd floor reported seeing “thick smoke.” Ambulances have been seen taking casualties to local hospitals.
The attack is believed to be the first of its kind in the northern Philippines, though the south of the country has been home to numerous Islamic insurgencies in modern history.