5 people killed in Gwadar PC hotel attack; army concludes clearance operation

Published May 12, 2019
This picture taken on March 8, 2019 shows a general view of the five-star Pearl Continental hotel located on a hill in Gwadar. ─ AFP/File
This picture taken on March 8, 2019 shows a general view of the five-star Pearl Continental hotel located on a hill in Gwadar. ─ AFP/File

At least five people lost their lives in a terror attack targeting the Pearl Continental in Gwadar yesterday, the army's media wing said in a statement on Sunday, as it announced the conclusion of its clearance operation of the hotel.

Four hotel employees ─ three staffers and a security guard ─ were killed and a navy soldier was martyred, while six people ─ including two army captains, two navy soldiers, and two hotel employees ─ were injured as gunmen stormed the luxury hotel.

The attack was claimed by the banned Balochistan Liberation Army, and a clearance operation at the hotel continued until late at night.

The army on Sunday afternoon announced that security forces had completed the operation at the hotel, killed three terrorists and retained their bodies for identification.

The ISPR, in a press release, also provided a blow-by-blow of the attack and the ensuing operation, saying that three terrorists had entered the hotel with the intent of targeting hotel guests or taking them hostage.

The assault began between 4:30-5pm. The attackers wore uniforms resembling those worn by members of the security forces and were equipped with modern weapons, official sources told Dawn.

The ISPR said that the security guard at the entrance, Zahoor, attempted to deny the terrorists entry into the main hall, but was killed.

"The terrorists went to the staircase leading to the upper floors," the ISPR said. "Enroute to the stairs, the terrorists kept firing indiscriminately, resulting in the martyrdom of three more hotel employees, Farhad, Bilawal and Awais, while two got injured," the ISPR said.

The army's media wing said that the Quick Response Forces of the army, navy and police immediately reached the hotel, secured the guests and staff present there, and restricted the terrorists to a fourth floor corridor.

"After ensuring safe evacuation of guests and staff, a clearance operation was launched to take on the terrorists," the statement said. During this time, "the terrorists had made CCTV cameras dysfunctional and planted improvised explosive devices on all entry points leading to fourth floor," the statement said.

"Security forces made special entry points to get onto the fourth floor, shot down all terrorists and cleared planted IEDs," the ISPR said.

Pakistan Navy soldier Abbas Khan was martyred in an exchange of fire, while four other army and navy captains were injured.

In the aftermath of Gwadar attack, the Balochistan government tightened security across the province. Chief Minister Jam Kamal chaired a high-level meeting today to review security arrangements in Gwadar and other parts of the province.

The army's media wing thanked the media for its responsible reportage during the operation, which "denied the terrorists of possible live updates" and "facilitated the security forces in smooth execution of the operation".

This is the sixth terror attack in Balochistan in one month.

On April 12, 20 people were killed and 48 others injured in the Hazarganji market blast targeting Quetta's Hazara community. The same day, two people were killed in a blast targeting a Frontier Corps vehicle in Chaman.

Less than a week later, 14 passengers were offloaded from a passenger bus on the Makran Coastal Highway and shot dead by unidentified assailants.

On May 9, a tribal elder and two others were killed in a blast in Qilla Abdullah, and on May 10, two coal miners and three FC men were killed in a blast in Khost.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has described the Gwadar hotel attack as a bid to "sabotage prosperity" in Balochistan, which is home to the jewel in the crown of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the Gwadar port.

CPEC has drawn the ire of separatists who complain that Balochistan does not receive its due share of resources from the Centre, and the banned BLA has targeted Chinese workers in Pakistan multiple times, including during a brazen daylight attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi which killed four people in November last year.

With additional reporting by Syed Ali Shah.

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