A separatist group known as the Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA) is taking responsibility and has released pictures of four purported gunmen through its social media accounts, saying they launched the attack.
The Zaver Pearl Continental hotel, located on a hilltop overlooking the deep-water massive port, currently is the only such facility available in the southwestern port city and often hosts Chinese visitors, among others.
The Pakistani military said in a brief statement that a clearance operation was in progress. “Guests safely evacuated. Terrorists encircled by security forces in staircase leading to the top floor,” it added.
Last month, 14 Pakistani security personnel were forced out of passenger buses near Gwadar in the main coastal highway and shot dead in an attack claimed by a separatist Baloch militant group. The militants routinely target security forces and government installations in the natural resource-rich province.
Beijing has built and operationalized the massive Gwadar port under a multi-billion-dollar bilateral mega-project, known as China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The port is located at the mouth of the Persian Gulf and officials anticipate it soon will become a hub of regional commercial and transit activities.
Pakistan has deployed specially trained security forces in Gwadar and other parts of the country hosting CPEC-relative infrastructure projects to protect them and Chinese engineers against militant attacks.
Beijing considers CPEC is a flagship of its global Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).