Attacker sets fire in crowded Philippine casino, killing 36

The suspect was found dead early Friday of an apparent suicide and the gambling chips also were recovered. None of the bodies had gunshot wounds.

"Islamic State fighters carried out the Manila attack in the Philippines", the news agency said.

The presidential spokesperson also dismissed insinuations that the attack was linked to the ongoing crisis in Marawi City, where the Maute Group, which has pledged allegiance but has yet to get recognition from Islamic State, led a siege.

"He burned himself inside the hotel room 510", national police chief Ronald dela Rosa told a news conference.

Resort owner Travellers International Hotel Group Inc, a joint venture of the Philippines' Alliance Global Group Inc and Genting Hong Kong Ltd, said authorities were still seeking details.

Metropolitan Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde said the 36 bodies were found in the smoky gambling room by firefighters and all died from suffocation and smoke inhalation. It was not clear how he smuggled the gasoline and rifle into the crowded casino.

The man carried a 2 liter soda bottle and may have an extra container of gasoline as well, Albayalde said.

But police later reported finding 36 bodies in the casino who they said died from inhaling smoke that had become toxic because of the carpet on the gaming room floors.

More than 50 people have been sent to a hospital to be treated for injuries.

"The security guard who was at the door for X-ray screening tried to slow the assailant down but unfortunately could not do so", he said.

The IS claim, which came almost 24 hours after the attack, also contradicted a statement from Ernesto Abella, a spokesman for President Duterte, who said there was no evidence linking it to fighting between government troops and Islamist militants in the country's south.

"We took out a ladder to save them".

"We have been informed of several casualties, the number and identities of whom have yet to be determined", it said in a statement.

"I was about to return to the second floor from my break when I saw people running". "I am very anxious as a parent, I need to find her", he said.

An injured hotel guest is seen outside of a hotel after a shooting incident inside Resorts World Manila in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines June 2, 2017.

The bag of high-value gambling chips - with an estimated worth of 113 million to 130 million pesos, or more than $2 million - was found in a toilet.

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

The gunman, whom dela Rosa described as "white, with a mustache", about 6 feet tall and English speaking, fled the gambling area and barged into a room on the 5th floor of Maxims Hotel, which is part of the Resorts World complex. They're also examining his vehicle which was left in the casino parking garage.

President Donald Trump is offering the thoughts and prayers of the American people to those impacted by an attack at a tourist resort in the Philippines.

"It is really very sad as to what's going on throughout the world with terror", he said from the White House Rose Garden. Internal security officers don't carry weapons, and didn't try to engage the suspect, fearing escalation of the situation, he said.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for an attack at a casino in the Philippines capital that left more than 37 people dead, despite repeated police claims it was not terror related.

  • Zachary Reyes