A man who fired shots inside a casino in the Philippine capital apparently killed himself on Friday, the national police chief said, after initially claiming police shot the assailant dead.
“The lone gunman is already neutralised. He is dead. He burned himself inside the hotel room,” police chief Ronald Dela Rosa told reporters outside.
“He lay down on the bed, covered himself with a thick blanket, apparently poured petrol on the blanket and burned himself.”
Dela Rosa made the comments about an hour after claiming in a television interview that police had shot the gunman dead.
“He’s dead. He was killed by our troops,” Dela Rosa had told the GMA television network.
Dela Rosa did not explain to reporters why he initially claimed police killed the man.
The gunman had fired an automatic rifle inside the Resorts World Manila casino complex about midnight. Dela Rosa said it was not a terrorist attack, rather likely a bungled robbery.
“Our assessment is he burned himself. He committed suicide,” Oscar Albayalde, chief of the Manila police office, said in a radio interview.
Albayalde says the English-speaking suspect was found dead with his rifle on the fifth floor of the Resorts World Manila complex. He said the gunman apparently killed himself.
Police were searching the suspect's car, parked on the second floor. Before the attack, he got out of the car and entered the building with his rifle.
Abayalde said the guards at the door ran away after seeing the armed man.
The suspect took 113 million pesos ($226,000) worth of gambling chips, which were found in a bag he was carrying.
Abayalde said there was no indication of terrorism. He said either the suspect lost in the casino and wanted to get his money back, or went “totally nuts.”
Early on Friday, the gunman burst into the casino, fired shots and set gaming tables alight in Resorts World Manila, sowing panic in a country on high alert after martial law was declared in the south, but police said the motive was likely robbery.
Police chief dela Rosa told DZMM radio the lone gunman had not aimed his assault rifle at people at the Resorts World Manila entertainment complex, and may have been trying to steal casino chips.
Shots and loud bangs rang out shortly after midnight (1600 GMT) in the buildings close to Terminal Three of Ninoy Aquino International Airport and an air force base, prompting fears that a militant attack was under way.
Medical officials said at least 25 people were hurt, some seriously, as they rushed to escape.
“Don’t panic, this is not a cause for alarm. We cannot attribute this to terrorism,” police chief dela Rosa said.
“We are looking into a robbery angle because he did not hurt any people and went straight to the casino chips storage room.
Dela Rosa described the gunman as “foreign-looking, a Caucasian, about six feet tall”.
A Reuters witness saw armed police entering a hotel near the complex. Videos posted earlier on social media showed people fleeing as several loud bangs were heard.
The local Pasay Chapter of the Philippine Red Cross said 25 people had been taken to hospital.
Jeri Ann Santiago, who works in the emergency room at the San Juan de Dios hospital, close to Resorts World, said 13 people were being treated, but more were on the way.
Most of the patients were suffering the effects of smoke inhalation and some had injuries such as fractures, she said, adding that none had gunshot wounds.
Windows smashed, but no gunshots: police
Windows were smashed at the casino complex where police were looking for a gunman who had fired an assault rifle, but there were no more gunshots, a local police officer said.
An AFP journalist initially reported gunshots were heard but a policeman on the scene later said the sound of the blasts was from the windows being smashed. The policeman could not say why the windows were smashed.
Smoke billowed from the upper storey of an entertainment resort in the Philippine capital Manila, a Reuters witness said.