The gunman who infiltrated Resort World Manila, a leisure complex in the Philippines capital, set fire to himself and died, the city’s police chief said. Shots fired sparked fears of a terror attack, but police say the man wanted to steal casino chips.

Smoke was earlier seen billowing from the building’s upper floor amid a manhunt for the gunman.

“Our assessment is he burned himself. He committed suicide,” Reuters quoted Oscar Albayalde, chief of the Manila police office, as saying on the radio.

The gunman did not intend to kill anyone, and may have wanted to steal casino chips, said the country’s chief of police, contradicting Islamic State (IS, ISIS/ISIL), which earlier claimed the attack.

“We cannot say this is an act of terror, he did not hurt anyone,” Ronald Dela Rosa told DZMM radio “If you are a terrorist you will sow terror.”

Latest media reports suggest that 54 people have sought medical help as a result of the attack, receiving treatment for physical injuries as well as smoke inhalation. No gunfire injuries have been reported.

The perpetrator, whom Dela Rosa described as “Caucasian” remains at large, but the official said that most of the rooms inside the sprawling complex had been checked and declared safe.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, via a channel it normally uses to report on its uprising against the government in the province of Marawi, SITE Intelligence Group reported.

Fleeing staff said that the suspect was immediately identified as a terrorist, causing chaos.

 

The US State Department has acknowledged the attack and warned citizens to stay away from the vicinity of the mall, including the country’s main Ninoy Aquino Airport, which is responsible for handling over 100,000 passengers daily.

The incident came amid an escalating standoff between government forces and Islamist rebels on the traditionally restive southern island of Mindanao, which have been re-energized by an alliance with Islamic State.

Over 170 people, most of them militants, have died in recent weeks as the government has deployed the army to retake the city of Marawi from the Islamists. Martial law has been declared on Mindanao, home to 20 million people, and President Rodrigo Duterte said that its use could be extended nationwide, prior to the Manila attack on Friday morning.