Explosions, gunfire reported at Resorts World Manila in the Philippines

By Holly Yan

(CNN) -- The popular Philippine tourist site Resorts World Manila is on lockdown after reports of gunfire and explosions at the sprawling complex.

A masked gunman was on the second floor of one hotel, firing at guests, hotel employees fleeing the scene told CNN Philippines.

Heavily-armed SWAT officers wearing bulletproof vests and body armor descended on the scene, Camille Abadicio of CNN Philippines said.

Tikos Low said he was in the resort's casino, along with a few hundred other people, when the attack began. Low said he heard what sounded like an explosion.

"I could smell some kind of smoke that came from an explosive device," he said.

It was not immediately clear how many people may have been injured or killed in the attack, which started around midnight Thursday.

"The company is working closely with the Philippine National Police to ensure that all guests and employees are safe," the resort complex tweeted. "We ask for your prayers during these difficult times."

Chief Operating Officer Stephen Reilly confirmed shots were fired, but did not give details on how many gunmen might be inside.

"We are still investigating the situation," Reilly said in a statement. "We are searching the area as much as we can to make sure the building is clear."

Resorts World Manila, also known as RWM, is a resort complex in Newport City, a residential and commercial center in metropolitan Manila.

The sprawling complex has an array of hotels, restaurants and bars. Tourists flock to the complex for its casino, cinema and stores, which include several Western retailers such as Hugo Boss, Lacoste and Kate Spade.

The complex, which is described on RWM's website as "the first and largest integrated resort in the Philippines," is across from Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Shortly after the incident began, the US State Department warned citizens to avoid the area.

No one has claimed responsibility for Friday's attack.

The Philippines has been grappling with incidents of terrorism, especially on the southern island of Mindanao. There, in the city of Marawi, government forces have been battling ISIS-linked militants for control of the city.

The battle for Marawi, a largely Muslim city, has displaced at least 70,000 residents and left 140 people dead. The terrorist siege began last week, just as Muslims worldwide started to mark the holy month of Ramadan.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law over the island of Mindanao in light of the crisis. Duterte also suggested he might extend martial law through year's end or impose it nationwide, alarming critics.

CNN's Bryony Jones, Eliott McLaughlin and Nadeem Muaddi contributed to this report.

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