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Suicide bomber kills five Chinese workers in Pakistan; China demands investigation

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif paid a visit to the Chinese Embassy and met with the Chinese ambassador, Jiang Zaidong, as per a government statement

In a tragic incident in northwest Pakistan, a suicide bomber drove his car, filled with explosives, into another vehicle on Tuesday. This horrific act resulted in the death of five Chinese workers and their Pakistani chauffeur, as reported by police and government officials.

The incident occurred in Shangla, a district in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, according to the local police chief, Bakhat Zahir. He further informed that the victims were engineers and construction workers en route to the Dasu Dam, Pakistan’s largest hydropower project, where they were employed.

Following the incident, the deceased were taken to a nearby hospital. Security forces initiated a search operation in the vicinity to find any potential accomplices, and an investigation into the incident was launched by the police.

Suicide bomber
Image : New York Times

While no organization has claimed responsibility for the attack, Baluch separatists, known for similar past attacks, are likely suspects.

This attack comes on the heels of an incident last week where eight militants from the Baluchistan Liberation Army, who had attacked a convoy of Chinese citizens near the Chinese-funded Gwadar port in the unstable southwestern province of Baluchistan, were neutralized by Pakistani security forces.

The Baluchistan Liberation Army seeks independence from the central government in Islamabad. The attack was strongly condemned by Pakistan’s top political and military leaders.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif paid a visit to the Chinese Embassy and met with the Chinese ambassador, Jiang Zaidong, as per a government statement. Sharif expressed his condemnation of the attack and assured that the culprits would face punishment following a high-level investigation.

Sharif expressed his and the nation’s condolences to the families of the Chinese victims.

The Chinese Embassy, in a statement, denounced the attack and urged Pakistan to conduct a thorough investigation and bring the culprits to justice.

Pakistan’s Interior Minister, Mohsin Naqvi, also expressed his condemnation of the attack and extended his condolences to the bereaved families.

In a statement, Naqvi said, “The enemy has targeted Chinese citizens who are friends of Pakistan,” without specifying who the enemy was. He pledged to deal with the culprits “with an iron hand” and expressed hope that the incident would not affect Sino-Pakistani relations negatively.

Naqvi also visited the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad, the capital, where he briefed the Chinese ambassador about the incident and assured a comprehensive investigation, as per the Ministry of Interior.

Pakistan’s military also condemned the attack on Tuesday. In a statement, it said, “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.”

Shangla is home to thousands of Chinese nationals working on projects related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which includes a range 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, which is currently grappling with 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 been targeted in recent years. In July 2021, a suicide bomber detonated his vehicle near a bus carrying Chinese and Pakistani engineers and laborers, resulting in the death of at least 13 people, including nine Chinese nationals. This led to a temporary suspension of work by the Chinese companies. Since then, security on CPEC-related projects has been significantly enhanced by Pakistan.

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Dr. Shubhangi Jha

Avid reader, infrequent writer, evolving

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