Wednesday 20 September 2017

Everything we know about the attack on a casino in the Philippines

The gunman was thought to have taken £176,500 worth of gambling chips from the casino.

By Peter Cary

At least 36 people have suffocated in choking fumes after a gunman who stormed a casino-hotel complex in the Philippines set fire to gaming tables.

The gunman stuffed a backpack with casino chips before he fled, but was found dead in an adjacent hotel early on Friday, having apparently killed himself.

The bodies were found in the smoky gambling room of the Resorts World Manila by firefighters. They died from suffocation and smoke inhalation.

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

Who was behind the attack?

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The attack, which sent hundreds fleeing into the streets during the night, prompted a claim of responsibility from the Islamic State group, but police said there was no evidence to support terrorism and believed robbery was the motive.

The violence unfolded as government forces were engaged in a second week of fighting against militants aligned with IS in the southern city of Marawi.

The SITE Intelligence Group, a US terrorism monitor, said an IS-linked Filipino operative who provides daily updates on the clashes in Marawi claimed “lone wolf soldiers” of IS were responsible for the attack.

The unrest in Marawi had sparked fears that militants might attack elsewhere to divert the focus of thousands of troops trying to quell the siege.

But police chief Ronald dela Rosa said: “We cannot attribute this to terrorism without concrete evidence.”

What did witnesses see?

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Ronald Romualdo, a maintenance worker at Resorts World, said he and his colleagues heard gunshots and saw people smashing the windows on the second floor and third floor to escape.

“We took out a ladder to save them. We were able to save many of them,” he said.

“But one woman I was trying to save fell from the second floor. I could not carry her.”

He said the woman was not moving afterwards, but he did not know what happened to her.

About 90 minutes after the attack began, Resorts World Manila said on its Facebook page that it was on lockdown following reports of gunfire and was working to ensure the safety of guests and workers.

Ronald dela Rosa said the gunman apparently barged into a room on the fifth floor of the Maxims hotel connected to the mall and casino, where he set himself on fire.

What happened to the money?

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A bag of gambling chips worth 113 million pesos (£176,500) was found in a toilet.

The suspect was English-speaking but had no identification cards.

Mr dela Rosa described him as “white, with a moustache” and about 6ft.

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