Gunmen attack luxury Pearl Continental Hotel in Pakistan, killing security guard

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The hotel is located near the port at Gwadar, which was built by Pakistan with China’s help in recent years.

Three gunmen have attacked a five-star hotel in Pakistan’s port city of Gwadar, with the aim of attacking “Chinese and other foreign investors” and killing at least one person, Pakistani officials say.

Key points: 

  • Three gunmen killed a guard at the entrance to the hotel when they entered
  • The Balochistan Liberation Army claimed responsibility for the attack saying it was aimed at “Chinese and other foreign investors”
  • The hotel is used by foreign guests including Chinese project staff, but there were none in the building at the time of the attack

Balochistan Home Minister Ziaullah Langove said most guests had been evacuated from the five-star Pearl Continental Hotel, which helicopters circled as fighting was underway. 

The military said three gunmen, armed with rifles and grenades, killed a guard at the entrance to the hotel when they entered. 

The gunmen have been killed and all the guests were evacuated to safety and are unhurt, the military says. 

Balochistan Liberation Army, a group fighting for greater autonomy in Pakistan’s poorest province, claimed responsibility in an emailed statement that said the attack was aimed at “Chinese and other foreign investors”.

Gwadar is a strategic port on the Arabian Sea that is being developed as part of the $60 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor,which is itself part of China’s mammoth Belt and Road infrastructure project.

A statement from the Chinese embassy in Islamabad condemned the attack and said “the heroic action of Pakistani army and law enforcement agencies is highly appreciated”.

The hotel, located on a hillside near the port, is used by foreign guests, including Chinese project staff, but there were none in the building at the time of the attack, Mr Langove said.

Pakistani officials have said the security forces were on alert for attacks during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which began in early May.

Security across most of Pakistan has improved over recent years following a major crackdown after the country’s worst attack, when some 150 people, most of them children, were killed in an attack on a school in the western city of Peshawar in 2014.

But Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest province, remains an exception and there have been several attacks this year, with at least 14 people killed last month in an attack on buses travelling between the southern city of Karachi and Gwadar.

The province is rife with ethnic, sectarian and separatist insurgencies, with several militant groups, including the Pakistani Taliban group Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Balochistan Liberation Army and the Sunni group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

Saturday’s incident follows a bombing this week that targeted police outside a major Sufi shrine in Lahore, in the north of Pakistan, that killed at least 10 people and wounded more than 20, officials said.