Duterte: Deadly Resorts World incident not work of ISIS

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 3) — President Rodrigo Duterte brushed aside speculations that the Resorts World Manila attack was the work of international terrorist group ISIS.

Read: Resorts World Manila: Timeline of a deadly incident

Bakit mo nakawin ang plastic (chips) na alam mo naman hindi mo magamit?” he said in a media briefing June 3 after visiting soldiers wounded in the Marawi clashes. “That guy is crazy. ‘Di naman niya gusto pumatay.”

[Translation: Why would you steal plastic chips that you know you won’t be able to use? That guy is crazy. He didn’t want to kill anyone.]

 

Duterte said the work of ISIS is “more cruel and brutal.”

“They will just simply kill people for nothing,” he said. “And that was the reason why the world today has banded together to fight the scourge of terrorism.”

The incident claimed 38 lives, including the gunman, and injured 67 others.

Gunfire and flames

The deadly attack began around midnight of June 2, when a lone, still-unidentified gunman stormed into the hotel casino in Pasay City with an M4 carbine and a two-liter bottle of gasoline.

WATCH: CCTV footage shows gunman during Resorts World incident

After shooting at property and setting casino tables and gambling machines on fire, the gunman forced his way into a room and stole ₱113 million worth of casino chips.

Authorities then shot and hit the gunman, who was still able to lock himself inside a fifth-floor room and set himself on fire before shooting himself in the head.

Resorts World officials said on June 2 that 13 employees and 24 guests died from suffocation.

LIST: Resorts World Manila releases names of fatalities

Duterte is proceeding to Manila to visit the wakes of victims after a trip to Cagayan de Oro on June 3.

Alleged ISIS involvement

Concerns over the possible involvement of ISIS came about after SITE Intelligence, a U.S.-based group that tracks online terrorist activity, said ISIS claimed responsibility for the "attack."

The group said the information comes from an "Islamic State (IS) Filipino operative who provides daily updates on the ongoing clashes in Marawi."

However, police officials denied the claim.

Read: 'Not terrorism': Resorts World Manila death toll rises to 38

"Why? Wala yung elemento ng violence, intimidation. Kung ISIS man siya, dapat namaril na siya. Kung talagang siya ay terorista, magsusuot siya ng vest instead of sunugin sarili niya," said Philippine National Police chief Ronald Dela Rosa on June 2.

[Translation: Why because there is no element of violence, intimidation. If he is a member of ISIS, he should have fired at people. If he is a terrorist, he should have worn a suicide vest instead of setting himself on fire.]

Dela Rosa said the ISIS claim is part of propaganda.

Meanwhile, National Capital Region Police Office chief Oscar Albayalde said the Resorts World incident was not connected to the crisis in Marawi City.

"No threat of terrorism here in Metro Manila," he said.

ISIS involvement in Marawi

In a speech on June 1, Duterte said ISIS was involved in the fighting in Marawi, the battleground of government forces and Maute fighters since May 23.

Read: Duterte: Terrorism in PH funded by drug money

Duterte said ISIS, which the Maute pledged allegiance to, sent some funds to local terrorists through Police Supt. Maria Cristina Nobleza.

Nobleza is the girlfriend of Abu Sayyaf member Renierlo Dongon. Authorities caught them at a checkpoint in Bohol supposedly on the way to rescue the remaining bandits after a failed attack on the province.

Read: Police officer, bandit detained at PNP headquarters

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Isnilon Hapilon, a bandit leader from Basilan and the supposed designated "emir" of ISIS in the country, is reported to have foreign backing.

"We heard from our intelligence that he has received several million dollars' worth of funds from the Middle East," he said.

Lorenzana said eight ISIS members were among those killed in clashes in Marawi.

Read: 8 foreign 'ISIS members' killed in Marawi - Lorenzana

As of June 3, the military said 120 Maute fighters and 38 soldiers were killed in Marawi.

Read: 1 civilian killed by sniper, 181 others rescued in Marawi

A total of 181 civilians were rescued, but authorities are unsure how many more remain trapped in the city.

(Story updated 5 p.m. of June 4 to correct figures on the casualties in the Resorts World incident.)