International desk, May 12: Three terrorists stormed the Pearl Continental (PC) Hotel, a luxury hotel in Pakistan’s southwestern port city of Gwadar, on Saturday and killed a security guard, according to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the military’s media wing.The ISPR said that the terrorists attempted to force their way into the hotel and were challenged by the security guard, who was fired at and lost his life. A clearance operation was launched following the incident.
“Security forces have cordoned off the area and encircled the terrorists on the stairs leading to the top floor,” the ISPR further said, adding that “guests have been safely evacuated” from the hotel.
Gwadar Deputy Commissioner Captain (retd) Mohammad Waseem also confirmed that “all the guests and staff members have been rescued” from the hotel and “the process of clearing the hotel has entered its final stages”.
Earlier, Gwadar Station House Officer (SHO) Aslam Bangulzai said that “at around 4:50pm we got reports that there are three to four armed men in PC Hotel”.
The SHO said that “additional police force, ATF (Anti-terrorism force) and Army were all present” to handle the situation.
The police official further said “there were no reports of any casualties” at the time. However, provincial Home Minister Mir Zia Langove in his initial statement said that “some people present inside the hotel have been injured from the terrorists’ firing”.
He refused to say how many hotel staffers were present in the hotel at the time of the attack but confirmed that “most of the people have been safely evacuated”.
SHO Bangulzai said that there were no foreigners at the hotel — a point corroborated by Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohsin Hassan Butt.
The IGP also confirmed that “two to three gunmen had first fired at and then entered the hotel”, adding that “95 per cent of the hotel has been evacuated”.
The provincial police chief further said that “the attackers may have come in a boat to launch the attack”.
Frontier Corps personnel had cordoned off the hotel and no one was allowed to go near the area, DawnNewsTV reported citing police sources.
Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani condemned “the terrorists 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 “was in touch with police and local administration” regarding the situation.
BLA claims responsibility
The Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the organisation’s spokesperson Junaid Baloch.
The attack comes just weeks after 14 people, including 11 personnel of Navy, Air Force and Coast Guards, were killed by gunmen near Ormara in Gwadar. A three-outfit alliance, of which BLA was also a part, had claimed responsibility for the attack.
BLA was also behind the Nov 2018 attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi, which was foiled by security forces.
The Chinese Embassy in Pakistan “strongly condemned the terrorist attack” in Gwadar on Saturday and appreciated “the heroic action of Pakistan Army and law enforcement agencies”.
The Pearl Continental (PC) Hotel in Gwadar, is located on the Koh-e-Batil Hill, south of West Bay on Fish Harbour Road. The five-star hotel is frequented by both business and leisure travellers.
China is currently working with the federal government to develop Gwadar port to facilitate connectivity and trade. Beijing is investing around $50 billion in Pakistan as part of a plan unveiled in 2015 to link its far-western Xinjiang region to Gwadar port in Balochistan with a series of infrastructure, power and transport upgrades.