At least one person has been killed after three gunmen stormed a five-star hotel in the southwestern Pakistani port city of Gwadar, the centrepiece of a multi-billion dollar Chinese infrastructure project, the military said Saturday.
The gunmen shot dead a security guard at the entrance to the hotel.
“Security forces have cordoned area. Guests safely evacuated. Terrorists encircled by security forces in staircase leading to top floor. Clearance Operation in progress,” a military spokesman said.
Earlier, the provincial home minister Ziaullah Langu told AFP four gunmen had “opened fire” on the hotel.
“There are reports of a few people sustaining minor injuries,” the minister said.
Mohammad Aslam, the on-duty officer in Gwadar, 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 were present in the building.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
Heavy contingents of police and security forces soon reached the area and started an operation.
Reports also said that the terrorists are heavily armed. They have rocket launchers and may be wearing suicide jackets. Security forces have arrived at the scene and cordoned off the area.
Balochistan information Minister Zahoor Balidi said all persons inside the hotel have been safely evacuated. The minister said firing exchange between terrorists and security forces is under way.
The Pearl Continental is the only luxury hotel 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 (244-mile) 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.
The port 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 Straits.
But it has also drawn its share of attacks, particularly from separatists who have long complained that residents do not receive a fair share of profits from the province s resources.
The attack comes just weeks after 14 people, including 11 personnel of Navy, Air Force and Coast Guards, were killed by gunmen near Ormara in Gwadar.