Published: Fri, June 02, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

At Least 36 Bodies Found At Casino Complex

At Least 36 Bodies Found At Casino Complex

The Resorts World Manila management released on Friday afternoon the names of guests and employees who died when a gunman set fire to the casino area of the complex in the wee hours of the morning. The gunman, who had fled with more than $2 million in stolen casino chips, then forced his way into a room in an adjoining hotel and killed himself.

Metropolitan Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde said none of the bodies had gunshot wounds.

Philippines government forces are now fighting ISIS-linked militants on the southern island of Mindanao, where the two sides have been battling for control of the city of Marawi for over a week. Authorities initially said there were no casualties, but appear to have only found the bodies while sweeping the complex after the gunman's body was recovered.

Philippines National Police Chief Ronald Dela Rosa said early Friday at a press conference that the suspect had shot into the air, but had not shot at anyone. The victims suffered suffocation, police said.

The violence unfolded as Muslim militants aligned with IS fended off government forces for a 10th day in the southern city of Marawi.

Dela Rosa said security footage showed the gunman ignoring a guard who tried to question him at the entrance.

It was not clear how the gunman smuggled petrol and an assault rifle into the crowded casino, but he did not fire at people he encountered.

Gunshots and explosions erupted after midnight in a hotel and casino complex near Manila's airport, sending hundreds fleeing into darkened streets in what police said was an attack by a lone gunman with no apparent links to terrorism.

"Islamic State fighters carried out the Manila attack in the Philippines", the news agency said.

The bag of high-value gambling chips - with an estimated worth of 113 million to 130 million pesos, or more than $2 million - was found in a toilet.

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The complex, which opened in 2009, is described on RWM's website as "the first and largest integrated resort in the Philippines".

Dela Rosa added that the suspect appeared to be Caucasian and had a mustache.

A lone security guard panicked when she saw the suspect's automatic rifle, Albayalde said.

"For now, we can say that this is not an act of terror". "I am very anxious as a parent, I need to find her", he said. He said the man's auto in the complex vehicle park was being examined.

"One of the employees told me that the suspect began pouring the contents of the bottle on one of the tables and lit it on fire", Dones said.

In an appearance in the White House Rose Garden later Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump expressed concern.

Earlier Friday, the mood was tense and emotional as friends and family of employees waited outside the casino in Pasay City on the southern outskirts of Manila near the city's global airport. Trump said he was "closely monitoring the situation" and would continue to provide updates.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law over the island of Mindanao in light of the crisis.

At least 37 people, including the perpetrator, died in the Resorts World incident.

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