June 1 (UPI) — Authorities investigating a shooting attack Thursday at one of the Philippines’ most popular resorts said indications are that it was carried out by a man trying to rob gamblers at the casino.
Gunfire erupted at the sprawling Resorts World Manila overnight Thursday when a masked man began firing on the second floor of the hotel resort — leading to dozens of injuries and a stampede by guests looking for shelter.
Philippine National Police chief General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa downplayed news reports that the Islamic State terror group was behind the attack, saying the early evidence doesn’t yet point in that direction.
“Don’t panic, this is not a cause for alarm,” he said. “We cannot attribute this to terrorism. 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.”
Police said they are still searching for the gunman and any possible accomplices.
Resorts World Manila said the shooting triggered a lockdown, and that it’s working with police in the case. All terminals at nearby Ninoy Aquino International Airport were also locked down because of the attack.
Philippine Red Cross Pasay Chapter told The Manila Times more than two dozen people were injured in the incident, as some attempted to escape the scene by jumping from the hotel’s second floor.
A police officer at the Pasay City Tactical Operations Center said SWAT teams responded to the shooting, according to The New York Times.
The New York Times cited local media reports that there were explosions around the hotel, which is near Manila’s international airport. Witnesses also said initially that they saw two armed suspects dressed in black.
Authorities were not able to confirm the origin of the attack, but the Philippines military has been recently fighting groups associated with the Islamic State elsewhere in the island nation.