Gunmen opened fire inside the country’s largest resort.
Gunfire and explosions were reported inside Resorts World Manila as a gunman opened fired inside the complex early Friday morning, according to local media reports later confirmed by national police. Resorts World Manila is the largest resort in the Philippines and sits across from the capital city’s international airport.
After initial confusion about the number of assailants, police chief Ronald dela Rosa said the incident was a result of a lone gunman who fired his rifle and set gambling tables on fire.
Early local reports and witness accounts of the incident stoked fear that a terror attack might have struck the country’s capital city. US President Donald Trump was one of the first world leaders to respond: “It is really very sad as to what’s going on throughout the world with terror,” Trump said during a Thursday event.
Trump’s assessment proved premature. Dela Rosa said the gunman had not aimed his weapon at resort-goers and appeared more concerned with getting a hold of “casino chips.”
“We cannot attribute this to terrorism,” dela Rosa said, according to Reuters. He said police were looking into the “robbery angle.”
He described the gunman as “foreign-looking, a Caucasian,” and said police were still pursuing him.
Several dozen people were injured in the incident, according to The Manila Times, with more in need of medical attention inside the resort complex, though the extent and nature of the injuries remain unclear. Those who were able to leave the complex were sent to nearby hospitals.
Tensions have run high in recent weeks, as Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte has faced an escalating conflict with Islamic State-affiliated militants, known as Abu Sayyaf, in the southern Filipino city of Marawi, on the island of Mindanao.
Duterte, internationally known for his government’s brutal crackdown on drug users and drug dealers that has left thousands dead, imposed martial law on the island of Mindanao Tuesday. The Filipino president announced the move a day after 100 Abu Sayyaf fighters attacked Marawi, saying explicitly that his moves would echo those of the Ferdinand Marcos, the former dictator of the Philippines, who imposed martial law against dissidents during his long and brutal dictatorship.
On Wednesday, Duterte stirred alarm among opposition leaders and critics when he floated the idea of imposing martial law across the entire country. He later joked that he would take personal responsibility for any Filipino soldier who had committed rape in the course of administering military rule.
Photo by Erik De Castro/Reuters