MANILA (CBSNewYork/CBS News) — At least 30 bodies have been found inside a resort and casino hotel in the Philippines hours after a masked gunman stormed the complex, CBS News reports.
The Bureau of Fire Protection Services said it appeared many died of suffocation.
Police said around 1:30 a.m. local time Friday, a masked gunman opened fire inside the Resorts World Manila, a massive hotel, casino and shopping complex in the Filipino capital. A security guard was shot, but survived.
“We heard a series of gunfire, what seemed to be explosions, coming from the Resorts World Manila,” CNN Philippines reporter Camille Abadicio said.
“I just heard explosions. I’m not sure if they were explosions or gunshots, but people are screaming and people are running out of the building,” another witness added.
Police said the line robber was torching casino tables, stealing chips and shooting inside the complex. Around 70 people were hurt in a stampede trying to escape the mayhem.
“Employees and guests just suddenly rushed out of the building. Some of them jumped from the second floor just to escape,” Abadicio said.
Initially, there were fears it was the work of terrorists, but investigators later said that was not the case, CBS2’s Jessica Moore reported.
Police have confirmed the gunman was found dead in an apparent suicide.
Metropolitan Manila Police Chief Oscar Albayalde said the English-speaking man was found dead with his rifle on the fifth floor of the complex, CBS News reported. Police described him as “white, with a mustache” and about 6 feet tall.
Smoke continued to billow from the complex for more than 15 hours after the attack.
“We do not know the exact identity or affiliation of this assailant, but the Philippine National police with our direction are doing all they can to track down the suspect,” Stephen Reilly, of Resorts World Manila, said.
Questions are now emerging about the resort’s security measures, Moore reported.
“We believe that our security measures were enough. They will be reviewed,” Reilly said. “At this time, we have more important things to look at, and that’s the security of our staff and the patrons of the building.”
The U.S. State Department issued an alert to U.S. citizens traveling to the Philippines to avoid the area.
The resort is right across the street from the Manila International Airport, and sources in the Philippines say all terminals are still on lockdown.
ISIS claimed responsibility immediately after the attack, but police said there is still no indication it was an act of terror.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that President Trump was made aware of the situation, and was being given updates by his national security team.
As CBS News reported, the incident came as troops battled with ISIS aligned extremists to end a bloody siege in the southern portion of the country.
Philippine officials told reporters that some 500 militants, including foreign fighters, were taking part in the siege of Marawi — the heartland of Islamic faith in the southern part of the Philippines.