Masked gunmen, who witnesses say were shouting about ISIS, stormed a resort in the Philippines on Thursday, wounding several people.
Resorts World Manila said on Twitter it is “currently on lockdown following reports of gunfire from unidentified men.”
Heavily armed police were responding to the area, CNN reports.
ISIS has not official claimed credit for the attack, but its supporters, including those based in the Philippines, are celebrating it on social media channels, the New York Times’ Rukmini Callimachi reports. According to SITE Intelligence Group director Rita Katz, an ISIS operative in the Filipino city of Marawi said “lone wolf soldiers” of the so-called Islamic State are responsible for the attack.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information is made available:
1. There Are Reports of at Least 25 Wounded Amid Sounds of Gunfire & Explosions, but Details About What Happened Remain Scarce
Explosions and gunfire could be heard at the Resorts World Manila complex. Wounded people were seen being led out of buildings to waiting ambulances as police swarmed the scene, according to reporters at the scene. Nearby residents posted photos on Twitter showing smoke rising from the resort complex.
According to the Manila Times, at least 25 people were wounded, the Philippine Red Cross said. The victims were taken to several local hospitals.
Some of the victims were wounded after jumping from windows on the second floor of the hotel, the newspaper reports.
2. Witnesses Say the Masked Gunmen Entered Through a Restaurant & Set Casino Tables on Fire Before Fleeing Through a 3rd Floor Window
Witnesses told a local news station, ABS-CBN, that at least two men wearing “black shirts, masks and bonnets” entered the resort facility and opened fire in a second-floor restaurant.
According to ABS-CBN News, the attackers poured flammable liquid onto casino tables and set them on fire.
The gunmen were “shouting ISIS before fleeing the vicinity by jumping through the window on the 3rd floor,” witnesses told the news station.
3. Resorts World Asked for Prayers & Says It Is Working With the Philippine National Police
Resorts World Manila said on Twitter it “is working closely with the Philippine National Police to ensure that all guests and employees are safe.”
In a second tweet, the company said, “We ask for your prayers during these difficult times.”
According to the resort’s website, the complex is located in Newport City, a residential and commercial center in Manila, which is the capital city of the Philippines. It includes hotels, restaurants and bars, along with a casino. It is home to several Western retailers and is popular among foreign tourists.
“We are still investigating the situation,” Resorts World Chief Operating Officer Stephen Reilly said in a statement to CNN. “We are searching the area as much as we can to make sure the building is clear.”
4. The U.S. State Department Issued a Warning About the Attack & President Trump Has Been Briefed on the Incident
The U.S. State Department issued a warning about the attack.
On Twitter, the State Department said, “#Manila #Philippines – reports of explosions/gunfire at Resorts World Manila, near the Manila Intl Airport. Avoid area & monitor local news.”
Press Secretary Sean Spicer said on Twitter that President Donald Trump “is aware of the situation in Manila and is being provided updates by his national security team.”
5. Filipino Troops Have Been Battling ISIS Forces in Marawi in Recent Weeks
ISIS, the so-called Islamic State, has been a growing threat in the Philippines. Filipino troops have been battling ISIS militants in the Muslim-majority city of Marawai, on the island of Mindanao, in recent weeks, CNN reports. Black ISIS flags could be seen in the city’s streets.
Battles there have displaced 70,000 residents and left 140 dead, officials say. President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law on the island as a result of the crisis. A Catholic priest was kidnapped by ISIS and the terror group posted videos showing him begging for his life, Fox News reports. The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country.
ISIS has expanded its presence in southeast Asia in recent years, battling for territory and launching terrorist attacks on tourist areas, according to CNN. ISIS fighters have also taken Western tourists hostage in southeast Asia, and have executed some of those they have kidnapped.
The ISIS threat has hit Malaysia and Indonesia, along with the Philipines. In Indonesia, four people were killed and more than 20 injured in a an attack by ISIS fighters in downtown Jakarta, eight people were injured in a June 2016 grenade attack on a nightclub in Kuala Lumpur and three were killed in a suicide bombing on May 24, 2017, in Jakarta, according to CNN.
Isnilon Hapilon, a Filipino militant leader, was named the emir for ISIS in southeast Asia last year, according to CNN. The siege on the city of Marawi is believed to have been sparked after Hapilon was surrounded and feared he would be captured, CNN reports. He called on others, including the Maute Islamist group, which has pledged allegiance to ISIS, to come to Marawi to battle back the Filipino troops.
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