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August 2019
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International News
Armed militants storm 5-star hotel in Pakistan''s Gwadar port city, 1 killed: police
 
Karachi: At least three heavily-armed militants on Saturday stormed a five-star hotel in Pakistan''s port city of Gwadar in the restive Balochistan province, killing one person during a shootout with security personnel, police said. The armed men entered the upscale Pearl Continental (PC) Hotel and opened random firing, a senior police official said.

A guard at the entrance challenged the terrorists who opened fire and killed him, the army''s media wing Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said. The outlawed Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) claimed responsibility of the attack which it said was carried out by the militants linked with its Majeed Brigade group. The anti-terrorism force, the Army, the Frontier Corps and additional police force are all present at the hotel, Gwadar Station House Officer (SHO) Aslam Bangulzai said.

A gunbattle between the militants and the navy and army soldiers was underway, the police said. Army said that terrorists were encircled by security forces in a staircase leading to the top floor and a clearance operation was in progress. The number of injured persons was not immediately known. Locals said several gunshots were heard after the terrorists entered the luxury hotel.

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. Home Minister Mir Zia Langove told TV channels that some people inside the hotel had been injured in the firing but could not confirm if there were any casualties or how many 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.

Frontier Corps personnel have cordoned off the hotel. All foreign and local guests staying at the hotel have been safely evacuated, Express Tribune quoted Balochistan Information Minister Zahoor Buledi as saying. "At around 4:50 pm (local time) we got reports that there are two to there armed men in PC Hotel," SHO Bangulzai said. So far, no group took responsibility of the attack. "Two to three gunmen had first fired at and then entered the hotel," Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohsin Hassan Butt said, adding that "95 per cent of the hotel has been evacuated".

"A clearance operation was going on," a spokesman of the army said. 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" on PC Hotel, and instructed the authorities to "ensure the safety of all inside the hotel", Dawn news reported. 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. China is investing heavily in Balochistan under the CPEC.

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.


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NATIONAL NEWS
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