ISLAMABAD • Pakistani security forces have killed three separatist insurgents who stormed a luxury hotel in the port city of Gwadar, the military said yesterday.
Officials said three gunmen dressed as military officers raided the five-star Pearl Continental Hotel last Saturday, killing three hotel security guards, an employee and a person from the navy in the ensuing gunbattle.
The insurgents had been holed up on the top floor of the hotel after security forces arrived. The forces cleared all guests from the premises while cornering the attackers in a stairwell.
"Security forces have completed clearance operation," the military said in a statement, adding that all three attackers had been killed.
Six others were injured, including four security service officers and two hotel staff members.
The military said the attackers disabled closed-circuit TV cameras in the hotel and planted explosives at all access points leading to the top floor.
A Baloch separatist group, the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), claimed responsibility for the attack via Twitter.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said the attack was a bid to "sabotage prosperity". "Such attempts, especially in Balochistan, are an effort to sabotage our economic projects and prosperity. We shall not allow these agendas to succeed," he said in a statement issued by his office.
The Chinese Embassy in Islamabad also strongly condemned the incident.
The Pearl Continental, part of Pakistan's largest five-star hotel chain, is the only luxury hotel in Gwadar, frequented by foreign and Pakistani business delegations as well as diplomats.
It sits isolated on a ridge overlooking the Arabian Sea port city that was formerly a small fishing village, but is now touted by officials as "the next Dubai" thanks to the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Part of China's Belt and Road Initiative, CPEC seeks to connect the western Chinese province of Xinjiang with Gwadar, with the development of the port as the plan's flagship project. Gwadar will provide China with safer and more direct access to the oil-rich Middle East than the waterway trade route it currently uses through the narrow Malacca Strait.
But it has also drawn its share of attacks - particularly from separatists who have long complained that residents of Pakistan's poorest and largest province do not receive a fair share of profits from its resources.
Balochistan, which borders both Iran and Afghanistan, has abundant reserves of natural gas and various minerals.
The BLA has targeted Chinese workers in Pakistan multiple times, including a brazen daylight attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi which killed four people in November last year.
Balochistan is tightly guarded by the Pakistani military, which has been targeting insurgents there since 2004. The army has been repeatedly accused by international rights groups of abuses there but denies all allegations.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE