Pakistan attack: Gunmen killed five in Balochistan hotel

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Zaver Pearl-Continental Hotel iImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
The hotel sits on a hilltop overlooking the Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea

Pakistan's army says gunmen who attacked a luxury hotel in Balochistan province on Saturday killed four hotel employees and a soldier.

The three attackers were also killed during a siege that lasted several hours. Six people were injured.

A spokesman for the Zaver Pearl-Continental Hotel in the port of Gwadar said there were few guests because of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The separatist Balochistan Liberation Army said it carried out the attack.

The group said that the hotel, the centrepiece of a multi-billion-dollar Chinese project, was selected in order to target Chinese and other investors. Militants in Balochistan oppose foreign investments, saying they do not benefit locals.

Who were the casualties?

The army's media wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), says three hotel employees and a hotel security guard were killed by the gunmen.

A soldier of the Pakistan Navy, named as Abbas Khan, was also killed in the operation to clear the hotel.

Two army captains, two more navy soldiers and two hotel employees were injured in the attack.

What happened in the attack?

Three gunmen wearing military-style uniforms stormed the hotel at around 16:50 (11:50 GMT) on Saturday.

The security guard who died had confronted the attackers to try to stop them entering the hotel.

The attackers then moved to the upper floors with the intent of taking hotel guests hostage, the ISPR said.

As they moved up the stairs the other hotel employees were shot dead.

The ISPR said the attackers cut CCTV and planted improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to stop access to the fourth floor, where they were contained by the arriving security forces.

The attackers were killed in the corridor and the IEDs removed.

The military thanked the media for limiting reporting of the attack, saying it had denied the gunmen "possible live updates".

What has the reaction been?

Prime Minister Imran Khan said the attack had been an attempt to "sabotage prosperity" in Balochistan.

The hotel sits on a hilltop overlooking Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea, which is being developed by China as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a network of roads, railway and pipelines between the two countries.

The Chinese embassy in Pakistan said: "We appreciate the courageous steps taken by Pakistan Army and security agencies."

Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan such attacks would "not deter us and Balochistan shall continue on its path to progress".

What is the situation in Balochistan?

Home to a long-running insurgency, Balochistan is Pakistan's poorest and least developed province.

It shares a large, porous border with Afghanistan and Iran.

Its economy is dominated by natural resources, particularly natural gas, and is being transformed by major Chinese infrastructure projects on the CPEC, part of the ambitious Belt and Road initiative.

Several militant groups operate in the region, including the Pakistani Taliban, the BLA and the Sunni Muslim extremist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.