One dead after militant gunmen storm five-star hotel in Pakistan in ‘attack on multi-billion-dollar Chinese investment’
- Local media report that armed militants stormed the exclusive Pearl Continental
- One official said that the attackers had reached the first floor of the hotel
- Officers are quoted as saying that ‘no foreigners’ are believed to be inside
At least three gunmen have attacked a five-star hotel in Gwadar in Pakistan’s Balochistan province and have shot dead at least one security guard.
Armed militants stormed the exclusive Pearl Continental and are believed to be holed up in a staircase surrounded by security forces.
The Balochistan Liberation Army, a terrorist group, has claimed responsibility for the attack which was plotted to hit back at ‘Chinese and foreign investment’.
Balochistan Home Minister Ziaullah Langu said there appeared to be casualties but there were no immediate details.
He said the ‘majority’ of guests had been evacuated and security forces battling back the militants.
Local media outlets are reporting that armed militants stormed the exclusive Pearl Continental (stock image)
‘However, there are reports of a few people sustaining minor injuries,’ he added.
Mohammad Aslam, the on-duty officer in Gwadar, said he could hear gunfire but that the operation was coming to an end.
‘There were no Chinese or Pakistani guests in the hotel’, he said, adding that only staff were present in the building.
Balochistan is mired in ethnic and sectarian infighting and is rife with militants including the Pakistani Taliban group, Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Balochistan Liberation Army.
The Pearl Continental is the only luxury hotel in Gwadar, formerly a small fishing village, and is where foreign and Pakistani business delegations as well as diplomats stay when visiting the city.
It sits isolated on a ridge overlooking the Gwadar port, which is the flagship project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The Balochistan Liberation Army, a terrorist group, has claimed responsibility for the attack
The massive infrastructure project seeks to connect the western Chinese province of Xinjiang with Gwadar, on the Arabian Sea.
It includes a 244-mile highway from Peshawar to Karachi scheduled to be completed this year, a new highway, airport and hospital at Gwadar port, among many other projects in the country.
The port will provide China with safer and more direct access to the oil-rich Middle East than the waterway trade route it currently uses through the narrow Malacca Straits.
But it has also drawn its share of attacks, particularly from separatists who have long complained that residents do not receive a fair share of profits from the province’s resources.