The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the Manila Casino Attack that took place in the Phillipine capital city on Friday, which killed more than 37 people. The police force, however, has denied that the attack was related to terrorism.
At midnight on Thursday, an armed attacker gained entry into the Manila Resorts World, a casino and hotel complex close to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Security footage seen by the police showed that the armed suspect had entered the complex through the parking lot – and they later searched a vehicle and discovered registration information that is yet to be released to the public.
The gunman entered the building past a security guard, who panicked after seeing the suspect holding an automatic rifle. The chief operating officer of the resort, Stephen Reilly, confirmed that the guards surrounding the complex are armed, but those who work internally are not permitted to carry weapons. The security guard who spotted the gunman did not attempt to engage, in fear that it might have escalated the situation.
Video of the attack shows guests at the hotel frantically trying to find the exists, as gunshots are heard and smoke plumes from the top floors of the complex’s buildings.
Reports from Ronald Dela Rosa, the National Police Chief, explain how the gunman stole chips worth as much as $2.3 million, which were later recovered from his backpack. The attacker also fired shots at employees of the casino. Eventually, the gunman was shot by security guards and later hid in a hotel room. He then covered a bed in gasoline and proceeded to shoot himself. An official statement released by the resort claims that they found the gunman dead at roughly 7am.
In a statement released by the Amaq News Agency, ISIS claims that one of their lone wolf fighters had carried out the terror attack. A statement released afterwards by the east-Asia division of the group named the attacker as Abou al-Kheir al-Arkhebieli, and went on to boast that he had killed and wounded many Christians before he eventually took his own life. The police force, however, has claimed that there is “no truth” to the claim.
Oscar Albayalde, who serves as the police chief for Manila, said that ISIS can claim whatever they like, but they are simply trying to gain more notoriety.
According to the terror analyst for CNN, Paul Cruickshank, the first claim by ISIS referred to a number of attackers, but the second claim only mention the lone wolf gunman. He said that until there is any real proof that ISIS was behind the attack, then the media should remain skeptical of what the terror group claims. He also suggested that the gunman’s given name is probably a “nom de guerre.”
Witness Jay Dones said that employees of the complex claimed that the gunman originally fired shots into the air before he began pouring flammable fluid onto tables and lighting them on fire.
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