You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Philippines denies terrorism after casino attack killed 37

LiveMint logoLiveMint 02-06-2017 Clarissa Batino

Manila: At least 37 people died at a Manila casino on Friday after a gunman attacked and set fire to the complex in an act that police say wasn’t terrorism.

The death toll includes the gunman and there is no terror threat in the Philippine capital, Metro Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde said at a televised briefing. The victims appeared to have suffocated due to the fire at Resorts World Manila, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said.

Abella said the attack isn’t related to the rebellion in Marawi, a city on the southern island of Mindanao that has seen deadly fighting between government troops and Islamic State-linked militants since last week. The Philippines has been on edge since President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on 23 May amid concern that he may extend the order nationwide.

An Islamic State operative earlier indicated responsibility for the casino attack, according to SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist activity.

People inside the hotel shouted “ISIS” as they rushed for the exits, Albayalde said. He said the “mentally-disturbed” gunman doused himself in gasoline that he ignited before shooting himself in the head. The attack can’t be related to terrorism because the suspect didn’t shoot anyone, he added.

Islamic state

In Marawi, 175 people have been killed since fighting broke out on 23 May, Philippine military spokesman Restituto Padilla said in a televised briefing Friday. The clashes began after state enforcers tried to capture Isnilon Hapilon, a commander of the Abu Sayyaf militant group who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.

Financial markets remained resilient to the casino incident. The Philippine Stock Exchange Index climbed as much as 0.9% before trading 0.6% higher at the noon break in Manila. The peso was little changed at 49.725 per dollar from 49.75.

“The market is taking it as it has been described in the news, that it is more of a criminal event rather than a terrorist event which just happened to coincide with what’s happening in Mindanao,” said Alan Cayetano, head of foreign currency trading at Bank of the Philippine Islands. “For the most part, the reaction seems to be that it’s not a cause for concern for the moment.”

Still, shares of casino operators fell. Travellers International Hotel Group Inc., the venture of Genting Hong Kong Ltd. and Alliance Global Group Inc. that owns the besieged resort, dropped as much as 9.4%. Alliance Global lost 3.5% at the midday break. Other casino companies including Bloomberry Resorts Corp. also declined.

The suspect stole 113 million pesos ($2.3 million) worth of chips, police said. More than 50 people were injured and are receiving treatment in nearby hospitals, Resorts World Manila said in a statement on its Twitter account.

“This is a sad day for Resorts World Manila,” it said. Bloomberg

More From LiveMint

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon