Islamabad, Pakistan – Armed men who broke into a five-star hotel in the Pakistani port city of Gwadar killed at least one person, with a security operation to reclaim the area underway, the authorities said.
At least three armed men attempted to enter the Pearl Continental hotel in Gwadar on Saturday afternoon, killing a security guard while raiding the building, a statement released by the Pakistani military said.
The assailants were surrounded by security forces on a staircase that led to the top floor of the building, the note states.
There have been conflicting reports on further victims of the attack.
Zia Langove, the minister of the provincial house, said that initial reports indicated that some people in the hotel were shot and wounded in the premises.
The military, however, said that all guests at the hotel, which has 114 rooms, were safely evacuated.
Even while the security operation was underway to free the area, the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), a separatist ethnic group from the Baloch that struggled for independence in the province of Balochistan, claimed responsibility. dell & # 39; attack.
"Our fighters carried out this attack against Chinese investors and other foreign investors who were staying in the PC hotel," said Jihand Baloch, a spokeswoman for the BLA, in a statement sent to Al Jazeera.
Gwadar is the site of an important port built as the culmination of the Economic Corridor of China Pakistan (CPEC), a commercial corridor that connects south-western China to the Arabian Sea through Pakistan.
The $ 60 billion CPEC project has seen massive investment in infrastructure throughout Pakistan, including the main roads and the port of Gwadar in Balochistan province.
The past few days have seen an increase in violence in the province, with Baloch ethnic separatist groups that have unleashed attacks on security forces and civilians.
On Thursday, at least five people were killed when BLA gunmen attacked a coal mine in Harnai district, Baluchistan.
The BLA and other armed groups have fought Pakistani security forces for more than a decade, demanding independence for the Baloch ethnic areas of Balochistan province, who claim to have been neglected by the Pakistani state and exploited for its resources mining.
Balochistan, located in south-west Pakistan, is the largest but least populated province in the country, with rich deposits of natural gas, coal, metals and minerals.
Rights groups claim that Pakistani security forces have abducted hundreds of Baloch freedom activists and freedom fighters in their struggle to quell the rebellion.
Last month an alliance of separatist groups from the Baloch ambushed a passenger bus en route from Gwadar to Karachi, the largest city in Pakistan, killing at least 14 people.
Asad Hashim is the digital correspondent of Al Jazeera in Pakistan. He tweets @AsadHashim.