Islamic State claims responsibility for Manila casino attack that killed 37

"We are aware of the reports of gunfire at the Resorts World Manila", spokesman Jeff Flaherty said in the statement.

Smoke rises from the Resorts World Manila complex early June 2, 2017, in Manila, Philippines. Resorts World Manila Chief Operating Officer Stephen Reilly clarifies that security men were able to fire at the gunman.

A masked gunman yesterday set fire to a gaming room at a casino in Manila, igniting a toxic blaze that killed 37 people, authorities said, but they insisted it was not a terrorist attack.

Philippine police say the attacker was a tall, English-speaking white man with a moustache.

The large resort complex is popular with tourists and features hotels, restaurants, bars, a shopping mall and a theatre, as well as the casino.

Authorities rejected the Isis claim, suggesting the motive was robbery even though he apparently abandoned the stolen chips in a toilet soon after.

"They can always claim whatever they want to claim", said Oscar Albayalde, police chief for the Manila area. The victims appeared to have died of smoke inhalation, police said.

Police chief Ronald Dela Rosa said the gunman then fled on foot to the hotel portion of the complex where he was found dead after setting himself on fire.

Dela Rosa said CCTV footage showed the gunman ignoring a security guard who tried to question him at the entrance to the complex. It was not clear how he smuggled the gasoline and rifle into the crowded casino.

The man left the room and went upstairs to the hotel section, but left the backpack, according to Dela Rosa.

No identity documents were found and police were still trying to find out who he was yesterday evening.

Representatives in the Philippines have formed a task force to handle other developments, the ministry said, adding that it has confirmed that no other Taiwanese were injured in the incident.

Thousands of residents have fled the city, and at least 140 people have been reported killed there since the siege began last week.

"We took out a ladder to save them". The guard was also wounded in the exchange, they said. But CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank pointed out that the first claim of responsibility referred to multiple attackers, while the second mentioned only one.

Silva said he saw a SWAT member who was shouting: "I was hit, I was hit". He said the woman was not moving after she fell, but he didn't know what happened to her.

At least 38 people died in an attack on one of the biggest casino hotels in the Philippine capital Manila early Friday morning.

"I would like to begin by addressing the terrorist attack in Manila", he said at the start of Rose Garden briefing to announced the US pull-out from the Paris climate agreement.

Speaking in the White House Rose Garden, Trump said he is "closely monitoring the situation" and will continue to provide updates.

All this on a week that has seen the Philippine military battle ISIL-aligned militants in the country's south.

  • Leroy Wright