Quetta - Three terrorists stormed a five-star hotel in the port city of Gwadar on Saturday and martyred a security guard, before being taken out by the security forces in an hours-long gunfight.

“At around 4:50pm (local time) we got reports that there are three to four armed men in PC Hotel,” Station House Officer (SHO) Aslam Bangulzai said.

Additional police force, ATF (anti-terrorism force), the Frontier Corps and the Army was called in to deal with the situation. All the three attackers were later eliminated in the operation that continued until after 9pm and in which Pakistan Navy also actively participated.

Earlier, when the terrorists tried to force their entry into the hotel, a guard positioned at the entrance confronted them and was shot down by the armed militants, said army’s media wing Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

Balochistan Home Minister Ziaullah Langov confirmed to the media that all the three attackers were killed by the security forces, and a security guard had also died fighting the militants.

The banned terrorist group Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) claimed responsibility for the attack. “Our fighters have carried out this attack on Chinese and other foreign investors who were staying in PC hotel,” said Jihand Baloch, a BLA spokesperson, in a statement emailed to Al Jazeera.

However, Balochistan Information Minister Zahoor Buledi said that all the foreign and local guests staying at the hotel had been safely evacuated.

The hotel, frequented by business and leisure travellers, is located on the Koh-e-Batil hill, south of West Bay on Fish Harbour road in Gwadar.

According to the details of the operation, FC and police cordoned off the area while backed by the helicopters, the commandoes of army, navy and police took on the terrorists. The attackers were surrounded by security forces in a staircase leading to the top floor of the building, according to the statement from the military.

Earlier when the shootout was going on, there were conflicting reports about additional casualties from the attack. Home Minister Zia Langove said that initial reports indicated that some people at the hotel had been wounded in firing on the premises.

However, later the military clarified that all the guests at the hotel, which has 114 rooms, were safely evacuated.

Balochistan, located in southwestern Pakistan, is the country’s largest but least populated province, with rich deposits of natural gas, coal, metals and minerals.

 

 

 

The BLA and other armed groups have been carrying out terrorist attacks and fighting Pakistani security forces for more than a decade, in the name of demanding independence for the ethnic Baloch areas of the province, which they claim has been neglected by the state and exploited for its mineral resources.

Recent days have seen an uptick in violence in the province, with ethnic Baloch separatist groups ramping up attacks against security forces and civilians. On Thursday, at least five people were killed when BLA gunmen attacked a coal mine in the Harnai district of Balochistan.

Being an emerging trade and financial centre with a regional significance, Gwadar town in the south-east of the country is a particular target of the terrorist groups, most of which have backing of hostile countries, especially India.

Gwadar is the site of a major port built as the culmination of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a trade corridor that links southwestern China to the Arabian Sea through Pakistan. The $60 billion CPEC project has seen massive investment in infrastructure across Pakistan, including major roads and the Gwadar port in Balochistan province.

Last month, an alliance of Baloch separatist groups ambushed a passenger bus en route from Gwadar to Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, killing at least 14 people.