Four insurgents armed with rifles and grenades attacked a luxury hotel in the southwestern coastal town of Gwadar on Saturday, triggering an intense, hours-long shootout in which one hotel guard and all the attackers were killed, officials said. In a statement, the military said troops quickly responded to the attack on the Pearl Continental hotel and that all the guests were safely evacuated. The hotel guard was killed as the assailants opened fire. A Baluch separatist group, the Baluch Liberation Army, claimed responsibility, saying its four fighters were involved. In a statement, the group released pictures of the attackers, who authorities say were killed in the ensuing gun battle. “All four of the terrorists have been killed,” said a senior security official. A second security official said troops had taken control of the area after killing the assailants. Pakistan hotel attack The hotel is located near the port at Gwadar, which was built by Pakistan with China’s help in recent years. Gwadar lies about 435 miles southwest of Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province. The region has been the scene of a low-level insurgency by separatists who demand a greater share of the province’s natural gas and mineral resources. The latest attack came weeks after Islamabad claimed that a group of militants crossed the border from neighbouring Iran and killed 14 security officials when they were on their way to Gwadar in buses. Pakistan at the time blamed a Baluch separatist group, Raji Aajoi Sangar, for the killings. The Pearl Continental Hotel, located on a hillside near the port, is used by foreign guests, including Chinese project staff, but there were none in the building at the time of the attack. Pakistani residents watch from a road the five-star Pearl Continental hotel, located on a hill (top back) in the southwestern Pakistani city of Gwadar Credit: AFP A statement from the Chinese embassy in Islamabad condemned the attack and said “the heroic action of Pakistani army and law enforcement agencies is highly appreciated.” Pakistani officials have said the security forces were on alert for attacks during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which began in early May. Security across most of Pakistan has improved over recent years following a major crackdown after the country’s worst attack, when some 150 people, most of them children, were killed in an attack on a school in the western city of Peshawar in 2014. But Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest province, remains an exception and there have been several attacks this year. The province is rife with ethnic, sectarian and separatist insurgencies, with several militant groups, including the Pakistani Taliban group Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Balochistan Liberation Army and the Sunni group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. Saturday’s incident follows a bombing this week that targeted police outside a major Sufi shrine in Lahore, in the north of Pakistan, that killed at least 10 people and wounded more than 20, officials said.
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