36 dead in Manila resort attack

Dozens suffocate to death as gunman sets resort casino on fire in the Philippines. Terrorism not suspected.

Gary Willig ,

smoke rises from Manila World resort building
smoke rises from Manila World resort building

At least 36 people suffocated to death in a fire set by a rampaging gunman at the Manila Resorts World complex in the capital of the Philippines early Friday morning, police said.

The gunman entered a casino the complex shortly after midnight local time and began firing at television screens with an assault rifle. He then poured gasoline on several tables and set them on fire.

Gunshots could be heard from the complex, and smoke was seen rising from the top floor.

Police found the bodies of the 36 victims in several rooms which were filled with smoke. None of the bodies had gunshot wounds, and all of the victims died of asphyxiation and smoke inhalation, according to Metropolitan Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde.

The gunman was found dead in a hotel room nearby. He appeared to have committed suicide.

Police believe that the deadly attack had no connection to the government's fight against ISIS-linked Islamist insurgents in the city of Marawi, a Muslim-majority city of about 200,000 people which lies about 500 miles south of Manila, and that the attack was a robbery gone wrong.

ISIS had claimed responsibility for the attack. However, police say no evidence linking ISIS to the attack has been found.