Imran Khan condemns Gwadar hotel attack as bid to ‘sabotage’ economic projects

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Sunday condemned a deadly attack on a luxury hotel in the port city of Gwadar in the troubled Balochistan province, saying the terror strike was an effort to “sabotage” the country’s economic projects and prosperity.

Three heavily-armed militants on Saturday stormed the Pearl Continental (PC) Hotel in Gwadar and opened random firing, killing a guard. All the three attackers were killed by the security forces.

“Such attempts especially in Balochistan are an effort to sabotage our economic projects and prosperity. The government will not allow these agendas to succeed,” Khan said in a statement issued by his office.

While condemning the attack, Khan appreciated the initial response by security guard and security forces in foiling greater loss to human lives.

The banned Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) claimed responsibility of the attack.

Gwadar port is one of the focal points of the USD 50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) with many Chinese workers from other provinces of Pakistan working at the port. China is investing heavily in Balochistan under the CPEC.

The Chinese embassy in Pakistan also condemned the attack on the hotel and expressed condolences to the families of the security guard who was killed and two security men who were injured.

The hotel, frequented by business as well as leisure travellers, is located on the Koh-e-Batil hill, south of West Bay on Fish Harbour road in Gwadar.

All foreign and local guests staying at the hotel were safely evacuated.

The provincial police chief further said that “the attackers may have come in a boat to launch the attack”.

Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani condemned “the terrorists attack” and instructed the authorities to “ensure the safety of all inside the hotel”.

He called for a “well planned and strong action against the terrorists”, adding that he is “in touch with police and local administration” regarding the situation.

Balochistan, which borders Afghanistan and Iran, is Pakistan’s largest and poorest province, rife with ethnic, sectarian and separatist insurgencies.

On April 18, unidentified gunmen donning uniforms of paramilitary soldiers massacred at least 14 passengers, including Pakistan Navy personnel, after forcing them to disembark from buses on a highway in Balochistan.

The CPEC, launched in 2015, is a planned network of roads, railways and energy projects linking China’s resource-rich Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region with Pakistan’s strategic Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea.

The BLA is one of the most-organised terrorist group of Baloch nationalists fighting against security forces. The group was also involved in the terrorist attack at the Chinese consulate in Karachi last year.