–Two security guards killed as BLA claims its four members targeted Chinese investors lodged at hotel
–ISPR says all assailants have been killed after intense shootout
QUETTA: At least four suspected terrorists stormed the Pearl Continental hotel in Gwadar, Balochistan, on Saturday, killing at least two security guards and injuring several others before being shot dead by security personnel, officials said.
The attack was claimed by the proscribed Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), which said that four fighters of Majeed Brigade had managed to breach the high-security hotel and killed “a number of Chinese and Pakistani investors” present in the premises. No independent confirmation of the BLA’s claim was made at the time of filing of this report.
According to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the terrorists attempted to force their way into the hotel and were challenged by the security guards. Two guards were killed by the assailants firing.
“Security forces cordoned off the area and encircled the terrorists on the stairs leading to the top floor,” it further said, adding that the guests were safely evacuated from the hotel.
In a subsequent statement, the ISPR said that the terrorists had been neutralized.
A twitter account linked with the BLA identified the assailants as Munseb Baloch alias Kareem, Asad Baloch alias Mehrab, Hammal Fateh Baloch alias Habib, and Kachkol alias Commando.
Earlier, Balochistan Home Minister Mir Zia Langove said that some people were injured during the firing. Though the minister didn’t share the number of people present in the hotel, initial media reports suggested at least 70 people, including 40 Chinese, were present inside the hotel at the time of the attack.
Balochistan Information Minister Zahoor Buledi said all foreign and local guests staying at the hotel had been safely evacuated.
However, Mohammad Aslam, the on-duty officer in Gwadar, said there were no Chinese or Pakistani guests in the hotel “only staff were present in the building”.
Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani condemned “the terrorist attack” on PC Hotel, and instructed the authorities to “ensure the safety of all inside the hotel”.
The chief minister called for a “well planned and strong action against the terrorists”, adding that he is “in touch with police and local administration” regarding the situation.
Baloch militant outfits have ramped up attacks on foreigners, especially Chinese, and security installations in the wake of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.
BLA earlier claimed the responsibility of an attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi in November last year. At least seven people, including three assailants, were killed when the Chinese consulate in Karachi’s Clifton area came under an attack early in the morning.
The law enforcement agencies and the police officers deployed for the security of the building had managed to foil the attack.
In August, BLA claimed responsibility for the suicide attack on a bus carrying employees of Saindak Copper-Gold Project in Dalbandin, Chaghai on Saturday. The proscribed outfit released the picture of the suicide bomber identified as Rehan Baloch, who is a part of BLA’s Majeed Brigade.
Gwadar, a small city in Balochistan province, is the site of a large port under construction by a Chinese company as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a centrepiece project of China’s Belt and Road infrastructure-building spree.
Beijing has invested about $50bn in the port and in road links between Gwadar and China’s far-western Xinjiang province.
The city of Gwadar, including its major hotels, is heavily guarded by the Pakistan army and paramilitary forces.