Three militants stormed a luxury hotel in the southwestern port city of Gwadar and killed at least one guard before engaging security forces inside the hotel, the Pakistani military said.
“Most of the guests at the Pearl Continental Hotel were evacuated,” Balochistan Interior Minister Zia Ullah Langau said. Meanwhile, helicopters circled during the clashes.
Police said that other than the dead guard, at least two people were wounded, but the final number of victims was not yet clear.
The Pakistani military said in its statement that the three gunmen killed the guard at the gate of the hotel and entered the building, and then security forces cordoned off the area and surrounded the attackers on a staircase up to the roof of the hotel.
The terrorist group Balochistan Liberation Army claimed responsibility for the attack and added that the target was Chinese and other foreign investors.
The city of Gwadar is a strategic port on the Arabian Sea being developed within the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as part of the infrastructure projects of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
The hotel, located on a hillside close to the port, is home to foreigners, including Chinese project workers, but none of them were inside the hotel when the attack took place, Langau said.
“We are very grateful for the heroic work of the Pakistani army and law enforcement agencies,” the Chinese embassy in Islamabad said in a statement.
Security in most parts of Pakistan has improved over recent years, especially after a major campaign following the country’s worst attack in 2014 that killed 150 people, mostly children, in a school in the western city of Peshawar.
But Pakistan’s largest province, Balochistan, remains an exception, with several attacks having occurred this year. At least 14 people were killed last month in an attack on buses carrying passengers between the southern cities of Gwadar and Karachi.