Pakistan Assault: Gunmen storm five-star Resort in Balochistan
Three gunmen who stormed a five-star resort in the restive Pakistani province of Balochistan, killing at least one shield, have been shot dead by security forces, officials say.
The attack and subsequent siege, which targeted the Zaver Pearl-Continental Resort at the strategic port city of Gwadar, lasted several hours.
A hotel spokesman said there were no guests and few employees because of Ramadan.
The separatist Balochistan Liberation Army said it carried out the attack.
The team said that the resort, the centerpiece of a multi-billion-dollar Chinese project, was chosen so as to target Chinese and other shareholders.
Militants in Balochistan oppose Chinese investment, saying it’s of little benefit to local individuals.
What do we know about the attack?
The gunmen stormed the hotel, usually popular with leading government officials and foreign visitors, at around 16:50 local time (11:50 GMT), killing at least one security guard who tried to stop them in the entrance.
Security forces entered the hotel and participate in a gun battle with the militants, before cornering them in a sidewalk leading to the top floor, officials said.
Because of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the resort had no guests and a very limited number of employees, a Zaver Pearl-Continental spokesperson told the BBC.
However, earlier reports indicated that hotel guests were evacuated safely.
The resort sits on a hilltop overlooking the Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea, which is being developed by China within the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a network of roads, railway and pipelines between the two nations.
On Twitter, the Chinese embassy in Pakistan condemned the attack, that comes only weeks after gunmen killed 14 people, including 11 military personnel, in the area.
Gwadar is a town with a heavy military presence. It’s seen by both Pakistani and Chinese officials as the lynchpin of the CPEC, aiming to connect western China with the Arabian Sea.
When I visited the port city in late 2017 along with other foreign journalists, we traveled in convoys guarded by armed escorts and remained in the exact same hotel that was targeted.
This attack will, therefore, be considered a worrying breach of security, and it isn’t the first time Chinese interests are targeted by this militant group. Last year the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) carried out an assault on the Chinese consulate in Karachi.
Following that attack, both Chinese and Pakistani officials worried that violence wouldn’t violate their close co-operation. But militant action in Balochistan is still one of the significant concerns about the viability of the CPEC project.
What’s the situation in Balochistan?
House to a long-running insurgency, Balochistan is Pakistan’s poorest and least developed state.
It shares a large, porous border with Afghanistan and Iran.
Its economy is dominated by natural resources, especially natural gas, and has been changed by major Chinese infrastructure projects on the CPEC, part of their ambitious Belt and Road initiative.
Several militant groups operate in the area, such as the Pakistani Taliban, the BLA and the Sunni Muslim extremist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
Source of News: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-48238759