PC Hotel Gwadar
PC Gwadar (Balochistan)

Three terrorists stormed the Pearl Continental (PC) Hotel in Gwadar on Saturday and killed a security guard, according to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the military’s media wing.

Others injured by the firing were shifted to a nearby hospital for medical treatment. Security forces were clearing the hotel that came under attack until filing of this report.

PC hotel is situated in the southwestern port city, the centrepiece of a multi-billion dollar Chinese infrastructure project.

“Security forces have cordoned area. Guests safely evacuated. Terrorists encircled by security forces in staircase leading to top floor,” a military spokesman earlier said.

Provincial Home Minister Ziaullah Langu said four gunmen had opened fire on the hotel. “There are reports of a few people sustaining minor injuries,” he said.

“At around 4:50pm, we got reports that there are three to four armed men in hotel,” Gwadar Station House Officer (SHO) Aslam Bangulzai said, adding that additional police force, ATF (anti-terrorism force) and army are all present to handle the situation. The police official further said the firing is ongoing but there are no reports of any casualties yet. He said ambulances and rescue officers were waiting at a road leading to the hotel, and that 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 was present in the building – a point also corroborated by Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohsin Hassan Butt. The IGP 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.

Balochistan Liberation Army claimed responsibility in an emailed statement. Heavy contingents of police and security forces soon reached the area and started the operation. Reports also said that the terrorists were heavily armed. They had rocket launchers and may be wearing suicide jackets. Security forces arrived at the scene and cordoned off the area.

Balochistan information Minister Zahoor Balidi said all persons inside the hotel were safely evacuated.

Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani condemned the terrorist attack on the hotel, and instructed the authorities to ensure the safety of all inside the hotel. He 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.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader and former interior minister Ahsan Iqbal also condemned the terrorist attack. Gwadar is the heart of CPEC, he said, pointing the finger at the government for the security lapse. Iqbal said security arrangements should have been beefed up in the wake of the Makran Coastal Highway attack.

The hotel is the only luxury facility 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 massive infrastructure project seeks to connect the western Chinese province of Xinjiang with Gwadar, on the Arabian Sea. It includes a 392-kilometre 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.