Reports are emerging of gunfire and explosions inside a popular Filipino tourist site. Resorts World Manila in the Philippine capital is currently on lockdown.
Witnesses reported seeing a masked gunmen on the second floor of one of the hotels inside the resort firing a weapon at guests and hotel employees as they attempted to flee the scene. Pictures and videos being shared on social media show people running from the area while others are carried away in stretchers. The sound of what seems to be gunfire can be heard in the background of some of the footage.
One SOFREP source on the scene witnessed a gunman entering one of the casinos as he loaded an AR-15 style rifle. Soon thereafter, the source saw signs of a fire coming from within the building, suggesting that arson may be among the tactics employed in the attack.
At least one witness claims to have seen multiple attackers, but reports from within the resort remain unconfirmed at this point.
Resorts Manila posted on its Twitter account that it was “currently on lockdown following reports of gunfire from unidentified men,” and “we ask for your prayers during these difficult times.”
A spokesman for the Pasay Chapter of the Philippine Red Cross told the Manila Times that at least 25 people have been taken to the hospital for injuries thus far. Some of the wounded were apparently injured as they leapt from second floor balconies in order to escape the shooting, according to Fernando Atienza.
Our police are already in the area,” said a police officer at the Pasay City Tactical Operations Center, before adding that local SWAT teams were also present. “We’re in the area to verify the incident. We don’t know the casualties. It’s an ongoing operation.”
The Philippines has a unique paramilitary police force called the Special Action Force tasked with countering terrorist attacks such as these.
According to local media outlets, Resorts World Manilla is located near Manila’s international airport and is “the largest casino resort” in the country. It includes a sprawling complex of hotels, restaurants, and bars, as well as casinos, movie theaters and Western style shopping.
“The company is working closely with the Philippine National Police to ensure that all guests and employees are safe,” the resort complex tweeted. “We ask for your prayers during these difficult times.”
No official statement has been made by the Philippine government about who is responsible for the attack, and no terrorist organization has yet laid a claim to it, but it remains possible that this incident could be related to ongoing fighting in the southern region of the nation against ISIS-flagged extremists, the Maute group.
Soon after reports of explosions and gunfire emerged, the U.S. State Department issued an advisory suggesting that Americans avoid the area, and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer posted to Twitter that President Trump “was aware of the situation in Manila and being provided updates by his national security team.”
The island of Mindanao in the southern region of the nation is currently under Martial Law as Philippine soldiers battle with Maute fighters claiming allegiance to ISIS. The city of Marawi has seen the worst of it thus far, with more than 70,000 residents displaced by the violence and a death toll surpassing 140 people to date. There is not yet any legitimate evidence to support a claim that Friday’s attack is directly linked with the Maute or the fighting against Islamist Extremists within the Philippines. SOFREP will provide updates to this story as they are forthcoming.
Images courtesy of EPA
Feature Image courtesy of Micheal Joe Delizo on Twitter