Gunshots and explosions at Philippine mall

Gun shots and explosions rang out from an entertainment resort in the Philippine capital Manila early on Friday and local media reported armed men were inside the complex.

People ran screaming out of Resorts World Manila, which is across a road from one of the main terminals of the Philippines' global airport, after the man fired what police chief Ronald dela Rosa said was an M4 assault rifle.

Additionally, national police chief Ronald Dela Rosa told The Associated Press that the attack involved a single gunman who was still at large and "there was no concrete evidence that the attack was terrorism".

A gunman killed himself after bursting into a Manila casino, firing shots and setting gaming tables alight, Philippine police said, sowing panic in a country on high alert after martial law was declared in the south.

"Resorts World Manila is now on lockdown following reports of gunfire from unidentified men", the resort wrote on Twitter.

The attack started at midnight local time, witnesses also reported hearing explosions as injured people starting jumping from balconies to escape.

"Resorts World Manila is now on lockdown following reports of gunfire from unidentified men", the company said on its Twitter account.

Philippine police cordoned off the area near the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Stephen Reilly, the chief operating officer of Resorts World Manila, told reporters that the suspect - whose identity is unknown - is believed to be still inside the complex.

After being briefed by his advisers, US President Donald Trump said he was closely monitoring the situation. The Filipino president announced the move a day after 100 Abu Sayyaf fighters attacked Marawi, saying explicitly that his moves would echo those of the Ferdinand Marcos, the former dictator of the Philippines, who imposed martial law against dissidents during his long and brutal dictatorship.

Multiple gunshots were heard as the men reportedly opened fire on guests, and witnesses claim the attackers set fire to casino tables.

"Operations of the Philippine National Police are now ongoing to address the situation", Resorts World Manila posted on Facebook. "The police are on top of the situation", military spokesman Restituto Padilla said. "Let's keep the people inside Resorts World and our police safe".

Within hours of the first gunshot, the terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors terrorist organizations.

The Philippines have been troubled by terrorism lately, as government forces are battling ISIS-affiliated soldiers for control of the city of Marawi, a mostly Muslim city on the southern island of Mindanao.

"We ask for your prayers during these hard times", the resort tweeted.

Also on Wednesday, a auto bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan took the lives of what authorities have confirmed as 90 people and injured 400 others.

Trump was briefed by national security adviser H.R. McMaster on the Philippines incident before he went into the Rose Garden, a White House official said.

The unrest has boosted fears that the Islamic State group's violent ideology is gaining a foothold in the country's restive southern islands, where Muslim separatist rebellions have raged for almost half a century.

  • Leroy Wright