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Chinese investigators in Pak to probe suicide attack on its citizens

March 29, 2024 23:50 IST

Investigators from China on Friday reached Pakistan to probe the death of five Chinese nationals in a major terrorist attack in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, as more Chinese firms have stopped work on hydropower projects in the restive north-west region.

Image used for representational purpose only. Photograph: ANI on X

Five Chinese and their Pakistani driver were killed when a suicide attacker rammed his explosives-laden car into a vehicle in the Bisham area in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on Tuesday when they were being driven to a construction site of the Dasu Hydroelectric power station in Kohistan district of the same province.


This was the latest attack on Chinese interests in the cash-strapped country.

On Friday, an official statement said that Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi met the investigators at the Chinese embassy here and briefed them on the investigation so far.

The visit comes two days after Pakistan officials shared with the Chinese embassy the preliminary findings of their investigation into the attack.

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday ordered a thorough joint investigation into the deadly terrorist attack on Chinese nationals, as Beijing pressed Islamabad to speed up the hunt for the perpetrators and take effective steps to protect Chinese personnel working in the country.

No group has taken any responsibility for Tuesday's attack as yet.

However, rebels affiliated with the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and Balochistan Liberation Army of ethnic Baloch nationalists in the past have carried out such attacks against foreign nationals.

Pakistan has blamed enemies of ties with China as responsible for the latest attack but restrained from naming any country or group.

"Pakistan and China are close friends and iron brothers. We have no doubt that the Bisham terror attack was orchestrated by the enemies of Pakistan-China friendship," foreign office spokesperson Mumtaz Baloch said at a weekly press briefing on Thursday.

She said Pakistan was "fully committed to bringing terrorists, and their facilitators and abettors to justice" and vowed that such attacks would further strengthen Pakistan's resolve in combating terrorism.

Chinese security experts believe the latest attack is a copy of the July 2021 Dasu terror attack in which nine Chinese nationals and four Pakistani people were killed.

Thousands of Chinese personnel are working in Pakistan on several projects under the aegis of the USD 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani media reported on Friday that two more Chinese companies have stopped work on hydropower projects in the unruly Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

On Thursday, the Power Construction Corporation of China suspended civil works at the Tarbela 5th Extension Hydropower Project in the Swabi district in the province and laid off over 2,000 workers.

After the Tarbela project, the Chinese companies have now suspended civil work at the Dasu and Diamer-Bhasha dams due to security concerns and about 1,000 Chinese engineers working on both projects have stopped operations.

The local staff for both projects has been directed to stay home till further orders, The News International newspaper reported.

An official working on the Dasu dam project confirmed that the Chinese company stopped work and local staff were asked to stay at home. The project employed around 741 Chinese nationals and 6,000 locals.

Similarly, General Manager of the 4,800 MW Diamer-Bhasha Dam Nazakat Hussain also confirmed that the Chinese company had stopped work and said around 500 Chinese nationals were engaged in DBD but the Frontier Works Organisation staff, of about 6,000 locals, continues to work.

However, 250 Chinese engineers are still working on the Mohmand Dam in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the newspaper said, quoting Asim Rauf, the general manager of the dam.

Sajjad Hussain in Islamabad