Karachi, May 11: 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, leading to a shootout with security personnel, police said. Additional police force, anti-terrorism force and army are all present at the Pearl Continental (PC) Hotel to handle the situation, Dawn news quoted Gwadar Station House Officer (SHO) Aslam Bangulzai as saying.

Three terrorists attempted a forced entry into the hotel. A guard at the entrance challenged them after which the terrorists opened fire and killed him, the army's media wing Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said. A gunbattle between the militants and the navy and army soldiers was underway, the police said. Pakistan: Train Blast in Balochistan, 3 Dead, 6 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.

China is investing heavily in Balochistan under the USD 50 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). "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.

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.