Armed terrorists have stormed the Pearl Continental Hotel in Gwadar killing one person even as the encounter is still on. Most guests have already been evacuated though it’s not known for sure how many are still holed up inside.
The Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) has claimed responsibility for the attack which took place at about 16:50 local time. The lone person killed happens to be a security staff who attempted to stop the gunmen at the gates.
For the BLA, the Pearl Continental Hotel is an obvious target as it is frequented by high ranking government staff as well as foreigners comprising mainly of Chinese investors. The BLA opposes Chinese investment in the region claiming it does little to improve the conditions of the locals.
The restive Balochistan province has been a hotbed of insurgency for long and is home to several militant groups such as the Pakistani Taliban, the BLA and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. That should also explain the heavy deployment of government forces in the region who are tasked with providing security to the Chinese working on the controversial China Pakistan Economic Corridor and the Gwadar port which is of immense strategic interest for both Pakistan and China.
The Pearl Continental Hotel sits on top of a hill overseeing the Gwadar port and a breach in its security is no doubt immensely worrying for the security forces.