Home Pakistan China Gwadar hotel attack; Testing time for Prime Minister Imran Khan – Gulf News

Gwadar hotel attack; Testing time for Prime Minister Imran Khan – Gulf News

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Zaver Pearl Continental Gwadar which came under attack on Saturday is the only five star hotel in the area and is center of activities for multi-national companies including Chinese working on CPEC project
Image Credit: Social media

Highlights

  • Five people including four secuirty guards of the hotel were killed
  • Balochistan Liberation Army claimed the responsbility
  • The hotel will be reopened after security clearnace and repair work
  • Zaver Pearl Continental is the only five-start hotel in Gwadar

Dubai: Sudden surge in terrorists attacks in Pakistan during the last couple of months have once again challenged the security forces and the government struggling to cope with the economic crisis.

This is the first time that terrorists have resurfaced since Prime Minister Imran Khan has come in to power about nine months ago. The intensity in terrorist attack has come in the wake of operation against banned militant groups and curbs on financing of proscribed outfits.Now, Imran will have to face scourge of terrorists and the militant groups in addition to tackling the crushing economic issues in the country and the ongoing negotiations for a bailout plan from the IMF. 

Security forces would have to step up efforts to tackle these sporadic attacks in different parts of Pakistan as such events though small in intensity pose bigger threat to the economy of the country.

The Zaver Pearl Continental Hotel which came under attack on Saturday is the only five-star hotel in Gwadar and the center of activities for multi-national companies and foreigners. The hotel has been vacated after the attack as the security forces have launched the combing operations inside the premises.

At least five civilians including four security guards were killed by the four armed terrorists who were later killed during a gun-battle with security forces.

Gwadar being the focal point of China Pakistan Economic Corridor is one of the most sensitive port city where a large number of foreigners especially Chinese are also working.

This is the third time during the last 11 years that three of the five start hotels run by Hashoo Group of companies came under attack by terrorists.

11

number of people, including five civilians and four terrorists, killed in the latest Gwadar Hotel terror attack

The group is owned by Sadruddin Hashwani who was recently awarded the top civilian award Nishan-e-Imtiaz by the President of Pakistan for his services to the country.

His Marriott Hotel in Islamabad came under attack on September 20, 2008, when a dump truck filled with explosives was detonated in front of the hotel killing at least 54 people, injuring at least 266. He rebuilt and opened the hotel within 90 days.

Marriott Hotel, Islamabad

A view of massive destruction at the Marriott Hotel Islamabad after the suicide bombing in 2008
Image Credit: AP

At least 17 people were killed and 46 injured when his Pearl Continental Hotel came under attack on June 9, 2009 in Peshawar but he reopened it again.

Financial support for families of guards

Speaking to Gulf News, Murtaza Hashwani, Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Hashoo Group, condemned the attack and said that they were not scared of such attacks and would continue to serve their country. “We will reopen the hotel as soon as security forces complete their work and give them clearance,” he said.

About the killing of hotel security guards in the attack, Hashwani said that they would provide life-time support to their families including free education to their children. He declined to comment further about the attackers saying it was up to the security forces to identify them and bring them to task.

A clearing operation was ongoing following Saturday night’s assault on the Zaver Pearl Continental Hotel.

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A Baloch separatist group, the Balochistan Liberation Army, has claimed responsibility for the attack, saying four of its fighters were involved.

The same separatist group in 2018 attacked a Chinese Consulate in Karachi, triggering a shootout in which all three insurgents, two police officers and two civilians were killed.

Gwadar lies in the southwestern province of Balochistan, where separatist groups often clashed with the government forces demanding

The latest attack came weeks after Islamabad claimed that a group of militants crossed the border from neighboring Iran and killed 14 security officials when they were on their way to Gwadar in buses.

At least 12 people including five personnel of elite police force killed outside Data Darbar Shrine in Lahore last week.

In a statement on Sunday, Prime Minister Imran Khan described the attack targeting as a bid to “sabotage prosperity” in the area.

“Such attempts, especially in Balochistan, are an effort to sabotage our economic projects and prosperity. We shall not allow these agendas to succeed”.

The Chinese embassy in Islamabad also strongly condemned the incident. “The heroic action of Pakistani Army & law enforcement agencies is highly appreciated,” it said on Twitter. “We express condolences to the families of the security guard who sacrificed his life & two security men who were injured.”

How it happened

Between 4:30pm and 5pm yesterday, four terrorists forced entry into the PC Hotel, according to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR). The attackers wore uniforms resembling those worn by members of the security forces and were equipped with modern weapons, official sources told Dawn.

They barged into the hotel, took some hotel staffers hostage, and opened fire. A police official had said that there were no guests at the hotel and only local staff was present there. Official sources had also denied rumours about the presence of Chinese and other foreigners in the hotel.

Security guards deployed at the hotel offered resistance but three of them were shot dead by the attackers.

Security forces, including Navy commandos, Army and Frontier Corps troops, rushed to the hotel and launched an operation. Navy helicopters also landed on the roof of the hotel.

The area was cordoned off immediately, and the people inside the hotel were evacuated to safety, the ISPR had said.

The DIG of Makran range, Muneer Ahmed Zia Rao, said that the first, second and third floor of the hotel were cleared, after which attackers took refuge on the fourth floor where a shootout ensued between them and security forces.

The exchange of fire between both parties continued for about 10 hours with brief intervals until the four terrorists were killed overnight.

Most of the hotel’s guests are attached to the government, multinational companies and Chinese involved in various projects. The Chinese employees of the Gwadar port project live in a separate location, though the hotel is often used for project-related meetings.

More violence warning

A Baloch separatist group, the Balochistan Liberation Army after claiming the responsibility of the attack, has warned Pakistan of further violence.

“After more than 10 hours of continuous battle and achieving all their targets the BLA fighters have used their last bullets on them and have left this world,” said a Twitter post by what claims to be the official account of the separatist group, the Baluchistan Liberation Army.

It added: “Expect more attacks China and Pakistan.”

(With inputs by agencies)

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