Dozens Suffocate in Attack on Philippine Casino

Police say victims suffocated from smoke after gambling tables were torched
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 1, 2017 6:59 PM CDT
Updated Jun 2, 2017 12:05 AM CDT

(Newser) – A masked gunman stormed a hotel-casino complex in the Philippine capital of Manila early Friday, shooting up a TV screen, torching gambling tables, and stuffing a backpack with casino chips before fleeing, authorities say. Police say 36 people suffocated from smoke after the man set tables ablaze by pouring gasoline on them. None of the dead bodies had gunshot wounds. A guard was shot during the melee but survived, and more than 70 others were injured in a stampede to get away from the gunman, who was wielding an assault rifle, the AP reports. The attack produced an immediate claim of terrorism from an ISIS-affiliated operative. But police say no terror links have been uncovered and they suspect the motive was robbery.

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The suspect was later found dead of apparent suicide. Metropolitan Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde says the English-speaking suspect was found dead with his rifle on the fifth floor of the Resorts World Manila complex. Albayalde says either the suspect lost in the casino and wanted to get his money back, or went "totally nuts." As news of the attack spread, President Trump offered the thoughts and prayers of the American people to the Philippines. "It is really very sad as to what's going on throughout the world with terror," he said. A US intelligence official says Trump was "freelancing" when he said that, according to NBC Nightly News. (Read more Manila stories.)

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