Local media report at least 34 people have been found dead by suffocation in a luxury resort complex in the Philippines on Friday. None of the victims appeared to have gunshot wounds inflicted by the shooter, though police reported one security officer shot herself in panic when the gunman entered.
"He would have shot all the people gambling there" if it had been terrorism, national police chief Ronald dela Rosa said.
However, Manila's chief of police, Oscar Albayalde, later ruled out a terror motive and revealed that the gunman had killed himself. He did not hurt the guard. He stuffed a backpack with gambling chips, fired his assault rifle at TV screens and set gambling tables on fire by pouring gasoline onto them from a 2-liter bottle he carried, dela Rosa said. Patrons routinely undergo bag inspections and must pass through metal detectors at many malls and hotels in the Philippines, where firearms are readily available and where an Islamist insurgency has seen the declaration of marital law on the archipelago's second largest island, Mindanao.
A guard was shot in the attack but survived and about 70 others suffered mainly minor injuries as they ran to escape.
The suspect killed himself inside one of the hotel rooms, more than seven hours after storming the complex that was just across from an airport terminal and near an air force base.
The South Korean Embassy has dispatched two officials to the scene to determine if any additional South Korean nationals were hurt, official sources said.
Shortly after the incident began, the US State Department warned American citizens to avoid the area and to let family and friends know they were safe. "As of this time we can not really say if this is a terror act", he said.
Ronald Romualdo, a maintenance worker at Resorts World, told the station he saw a woman fall from an upper floor while trying to escape.
He is believed to be among those fighting in Marawi, military chiefs have said.
The capital's police office spokeswoman Kimberly Molitas said 113 million Philippine pesos ($3 million) worth of casino chips stolen during the raid had been recovered.
The suspect was English-speaking but had no identification cards. Dela Rosa described him as "white, with a mustache" and about 6 feet tall.
Police are searching the suspect's vehicle, parked on the second floor. CNN Philippines shared that the US president expressed his sympathies by saying his thoughts and prayers go out to the people affected by the incident in Manila. It is really sad with what's going on throughout the world with terror. We're closely monitoring the situation and I will continue to give updates if anything happens during this period of time.
Gunfire was heard at a hotel and a casino resort in the Philippine capital on Friday, and the Islamic State group (IS) quickly claimed responsibility.
An English message by the operative was distributed across several pro-IS Telegram chat groups, SITE said.