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US, UK, Australia warn nationals after Resorts World Manila attack

SHOOTING INCIDENT. The Resorts World Manila attack on June 2, 2017, prompts foreign embassies to warn their nationals to exercise caution. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The embassies of the US, the UK, and Australia in Manila warned their nationals to exercise caution after a shooting incident at a Manila casino on Friday, June 2.

Friday’s attack at Resorts World Manila left at least 54 people injured and the gunman dead. It comes as President Rodrigo Duterte links the terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS) to recent clashes in the southern Philippines, which prompted him to declare martial law in the whole of Mindanao.

Australia even told its nationals to "exercise a high degree of caution" when traveling to the Philippines "overall."

In an emergency message on Friday, the US embassy warned Americans: "Local media reports gunfire and explosions at Resorts World Manila near the Manila International Airport. Exercise caution and review your personal security plans, remain aware of your surroundings, including local events, and monitor local news stations for updates. Heed any instructions given by local authorities."

The British embassy issued a similar advisory. "There are reports of a major security incident at the Resorts World Hotel in Manila. You are advised to avoid the area and follow the advice of local authorities," the British embassy said.

Also reacting to the Resorts World Manila attack, the Australian embassy told its nationals, "Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media about possible new safety or security risks."

‘High degree of caution’

"Travelers are reminded of the high threat of terrorist attack in the Philippines, including Manila. Exercise heightened caution at this time," the Australian embassy said.

"We continue to advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in the Philippines overall. Higher levels apply in some parts of the country," it added.

Terrorism monitoring group SITE earlier said a Filipino operative of ISIS claimed responsibility for the Resorts World Manila attack.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) downplayed this claim, however, as PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said the PNP is "looking at robbery" as a possible motive.

Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde said the gunman had tried to steal P113 million ($2.3 million) worth of gambling chips.

Dela Rosa said the gunman eventually "burned himself inside a hotel room," after initially saying the suspect was "killed by our troops."

The Resorts World Manila attack happened as clashes continue between terrorists and government troops in Marawi City. The Marawi clashes, as well as the threat of the terrorist Islamic State (ISIS), prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law in the whole of Mindanao.

Duterte warned he will expand martial law to the entire Philippines if the terror threats continue. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com

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