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5 Chinese nationals killed in suicide attack in Pak

Last updated on: March 26, 2024 20:58 IST

At least five Chinese nationals were among the six persons killed on Tuesday when an explosives-packed vehicle rammed into their bus in Pakistan's troubled province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, officials said, in the second suicide attack on the personnel working on the China-backed hydropower project since 2021.

IMAGE: Vehicles pass through Abbottabad Tunnel No 1, which is part of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) along Hazara Motorway in Abbottabad, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan on October 15, 2023. Photograph: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

The Chinese were working on the Dasu hydropower project, which is about 300 km to the north of Islamabad. The 4,320 MW project is being constructed by the China Gezhouba with funding from the World Bank.

In Tuesday's attack, several others were injured in the incident that occurred in the Bisham area of Shangla district of the province when a bus, escorted by a five-vehicle convoy, en route from Islamabad to Kohistan was hit by a vehicle coming from the opposite direction in the hilly terrain, the police said.

The incident occurred around 1 pm.

One of the vehicles of the 13-vehicle convoy caught fire and fell into a ravine, following the attack, China's Xinhua news agency said, quoting the sources..


Senior police officer Muhammad Ali Gandapur confirmed the incident and the death toll, adding that apparently, it was a suicide attack.

"Five Chinese nationals and their Pakistani driver were killed in the attack," Gandapur told the media.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.

The police and officials of other security agencies rushed to the scene of the attack and launched a probe into the incident.

The Pakistan Army said that strategic projects and sensitive sites vital for Pakistan's economic progress are being targeted as a conscious effort to retard progress and sow discord between Pakistan and its strategic allies and partners, most notably China.

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said the attack was 'orchestrated by the enemies of Pakistan-China friendship' and added that 'Such dastardly acts cannot dent the resolve of Pakistani nation to fight against the scourge of terrorism.'

The Chinese Embassy here announced taking all necessary measures to protect the Chinese citizens, institutions and projects in Pakistan, and to ensure such incidents will not happen again. This is the second such attack that has killed Chinese nationals since 2021.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi rushed to the Chinese embassy here and met Chinese ambassador Jiang Zaidong.
Naqvi offered condolences and also assured the envoy that the Pakistan government would bring the perpetrators to justice.

President Asif Ali Zardari strongly condemned the attack and said, "Anti-Pakistan elements will never succeed in damaging Pak-China friendship."

Chief Minister Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province Ali Amin Gandapur also has condemned the suicide attack and sought a detailed report from the provincial police chief into the attack on the Chinese vehicle.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Army said that the recent incidents of terrorism in Pakistan, notably in Gwadar, Turbat, and Besham on Tuesday were dastardly acts aimed at destabilising the internal security situation.

"While the first two attempts were successfully thwarted by the armed forces, the latest incident at Besham claimed six innocent civilians including 5 Chinese nationals," the army said in a statement, condemning the incident.

"Certain foreign elements are complicit in aiding and abetting terrorism in Pakistan, driven by their vested interests. Despite the veneer of innocence, these elements are being continuously exposed as sponsors of terror," it said.

The army declared that Pakistan with the unwavering support of the resilient nation and "our iron-clad ally China" will ensure that all those involved in aiding terrorism, directly or indirectly, are held accountable and find their due comeuppance.

The foreign ministry also "strongly condemned" what it called as the "heinous act of terrorism" and said it will take all necessary measures to bring the terrorists and their facilitators to justice.

"Such dastardly acts cannot dent the resolve of the Pakistani nation to fight against the scourge of terrorism. Today's attack was orchestrated by the enemies of Pakistan-China friendship. We will resolutely act against all such forces and defeat them," it said.

"Pakistan and China are close friends and iron brothers. The life and safety of Chinese nationals in Pakistan is of paramount importance. Pakistan will continue to work with our Chinese brothers in ensuring the safety and security of Chinese nationals, projects and institutions in Pakistan," the statement added.

Separately, the Chinese embassy, in a statement, too "strongly condemned the attack" and expressed "deep condolences" to the victims and sincere sympathy to the bereaved families.

The Chinese Embassy and Consulates General in Pakistan have launched an emergency plan immediately, requesting the Pakistani side to thoroughly investigate the attack and severely punish the perpetrators, it said.

The embassy announced taking all necessary measures to protect the Chinese citizens, institutions and projects in Pakistan, and to ensure such incidents will not happen again.

It also reminded the Chinese citizens, and enterprises in Pakistan to pay close attention to the security situation, enhance security alerts, strengthen security measures, and make every effort to take safety precautions.

Chinese 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.

This latest case should serve as a wake-up call for Pakistan that it needs to improve the security situation in the country and for China that it should be aware of the terrorist forces that are trying to sabotage the success of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Chinese security experts told the Global Times.

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

Sajjad Hussain in Islamabad
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