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June 14, 2024

5 Chinese nationals are killed in Pakistan suicide attack

5 Chinese nationals are killed in Pakistan suicide attack

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A suicide bomber in northwest Pakistan rammed his explosive-laden car into a vehicle Tuesday, killing five Chinese nationals and their Pakistani driver, police and government officials said.

The attack happened in Shangla, a district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, local police chief Bakhat Zahir said. He added that the five killed were construction workers and engineers heading to the Dasu Dam, the biggest hydropower project in Pakistan, where they worked.

Authorities said the bodies were transported to a nearby hospital, and that security forces started a search in the area to look for accomplices. Police also launched an investigation into the attack.

No group claimed responsibility, but suspicion is likely to fall on Baluch separatists, who have claimed previous such attacks.

Tuesday’s attack came less than a week after Pakistani security forces killed eight Baluchistan Liberation Army militants who opened fire on a convoy carrying Chinese citizens outside the Chinese-funded Gwadar port in the volatile southwestern province of Baluchistan.

The BLA wants independence from the central government in Islamabad.

Pakistan’s top political and military leadership denounced the attack.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif visited the Chinese Embassy where he met with the Chinese ambassador, Jiang Zaidong, a government statement said. It said that Sharif condemned the attack, saying those who orchestrated it would be punished and that there would be a high-level investigation.

“The sympathies of the entire nation, including me, are with the families of the Chinese citizens” who were killed in the attack, he said.

In a statement, the Chinese Embassy condemned the attack and said it had requested Pakistan to “thoroughly investigate the attack and severely punish the perpetrators.”

Earlier, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi also condemned the attack and offered condolences to the families of the deceased.

“The enemy has targeted Chinese citizens who are the friends of Pakistan,” he said in a statement, without saying whom he was referring to. He also vowed to deal with those responsible “with an iron hand,” and expressed hope that the attack would not negatively affect Pakistani-Chinese relations.

Naqvi also visited the Chinese Embassy in the capital, Islamabad, where he briefed the Chinese ambassador about the attack, promising a full investigation, according to the Ministry of Interior.

Also Tuesday, Pakistan’s military denounced the attack.

“Such heinous acts of violence against innocent civilians, foreigners and the armed forces will not deter the resolve of the Pakistani people, its security forces and our partners to root out the menace (of) terrorism from our country,” it said in a statement.

Thousands of Chinese nationals work in Shangla on projects relating to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which includes a multitude of megaprojects such as road construction, power plants and agriculture.

The CPEC, also known as the One Road Project, is a lifeline for Pakistan’s cash-strapped government, currently facing one of its worst economic crises. The project is part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a global endeavor aimed at reconstituting the Silk Road and linking China to all corners of Asia.

Chinese laborers working on CPEC-related projects in Pakistan have come under attack in recent years.

In July 2021, at least 13 people, including nine Chinese nationals, were killed when a suicide bomber detonated his vehicle near a bus carrying Chinese and Pakistani engineers and laborers, prompting the Chinese companies to suspend work at the time.

Since then, Pakistan has beefed up security on CPEC-related projects.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

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