MANILA: A man who fired shots inside a casino in the Philippine capital apparently killed himself on Friday (Jun 2), the national police chief said, after initially claiming police shot the assailant dead.
“The lone gunman is already neutralised. He is dead. He burned himself inside the hotel room,” police chief Ronald Dela Rosa told reporters outside.
“He lay down on the bed, covered himself with a thick blanket, apparently poured petrol on the blanket and burned himself.”
Dela Rosa made the comments about an hour after claiming in a television interview that police had shot the gunman dead.
“He’s dead. He was killed by our troops,” Dela Rosa had told the GMA television network.
Dela Rosa did not explain to reporters why he initially claimed police killed the man.
LIKELY MOTIVE ROBBERY: POLICE
Earlier, people ran screaming out of Resorts World Manila, which is across a road from one of the main terminals of the Philippines’ international airport, after the gunman fired what police chief dela Rosa said was an M4 assault rifle.
“There hasn’t been anyone shot … there are only injuries from people who tried to escape in a stampede or from smoke,” Dela Rosa said on DZMM radio.
Officials said at least 30 people were hurt, some seriously, as they rushed to escape.
Police have said that the likely motive was robbery.
Dela Rosa said the gunman, who appeared to be acting alone, walked into one of the gambling rooms and fired the rifle at a large television screen then poured gasoline onto a gambling table and set it alight.
He said the man then fired again at a stock room containing gambling chips and filled a backpack with them. The man then left the room and went upstairs to a hotel section of the complex, according to dela Rosa.
Windows were smashed on the second floor of the complex just before daylight broke, but it was unclear why and by nearly 6am police did not report any breakthrough in the hunt for the gunman.
The Islamic State group immediately claimed responsibility.
IS said “lonewolf soldiers” from its group carried out the attack, according to the SITE Intelligence Group that monitors terrorist organisations.
But dela Rosa said: “We cannot attribute this to terrorism.” He said it may have just have been an attempted robbery, pointing out the gunman tried to steal the gambling chips.
People inside the casino recounted feelings of terror when the shooting occurred.
“I was about to return to the second floor from my break when I saw people running. Some hotel guests said someone yelled ‘ISIS’,” Maricel Navaro, an employee of Resorts World, told DZMM radio.
“Guests were screaming. We went to the basement locker room and hid there. People were screaming, guests and employees were in panic,” Navaro said.
“When we smelled smoke, we decided to go for the exit in the carpark. That’s where we got out. Before we exited, we heard two gunshots and there was thick smoke on the ground floor.”
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