China presses Pakistan to ‘Eliminate Security Risks’ to its nationals after deadly attack


March 30, 2024


China presses Pakistan to ‘Eliminate Security Risks’ to its nationals after deadly attack

Volunteers carry a casket of a Chinese national, who was killed in the suicide bombing, at a hospital in Basham, in Shangla district in the Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, March 26, 2024/ Photo: VOA

ISLAMABAD: China joined a Pakistan probe Friday into the killing of five of its nationals in a suicide car bombing.

That attack has led to the suspension of work on a multibillion-dollar Chinese-funded hydropower project.

Pakistani Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi’s office said that he met with a “special investigation team from China” at Beijing’s embassy in Islamabad and “briefed them on the investigation so far” into Tuesday’s deadly attack.

According to a statement, they also discussed efforts to enhance the security of Chinese nationals in Pakistan during the meeting.

The deadly violence occurred when a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into a convoy of Chinese engineers working on the 4,320-megawatt Dasu hydropower project in northwestern Pakistan.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack that also killed the Pakistani driver of the slain foreigners.

“The perpetrators of the attack will be held accountable and brought to justice,” Naqvi was quoted as assuring the Chinese investigators and diplomats.

‘Eliminate security risks’

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson in Beijing told a news conference Friday that the head of its “inter-agency” team engaged with senior Pakistani officials immediately upon arrival.

“He asked the Pakistani side to conduct speedy and thorough investigations into the attack, properly handle ensuing matters, step up security with concrete measures, completely eliminate security risks, and do everything possible to ensure the utmost safety of Chinese personnel, institutions, and projects in Pakistan,” Lin Jian said.

“The Pakistani side said that investigations and efforts to handle the ensuing matters are fully underway, and they are taking all possible steps to improve security for Chinese personnel, projects, and institutions,” Lin added.

China has invested billions of dollars in infrastructure projects in Pakistan, including road networks, power plants, and a deep-water Arabian Sea port in Gwadar district in southwestern Baluchistan province.

The estimated $62 billion bilateral collaboration, known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, is an extension of Beijing’s global Belt and Road Initiative infrastructure program.

Chinese and Pakistani officials confirmed Friday that work on the Dasu project had temporarily been suspended but not stopped following Tuesday’s attack.

They said work on all other Chinese-funded projects, including CPEC, is still ongoing.

In mid-2021, a suicide car bombing targeted a bus convoy of Chinese engineers working on the biggest hydropower project in the South Asian nation, killing nine Chinese nationals and three of their local co-workers.

No group claimed responsibility for that attack.

Pakistan has lately experienced a dramatic surge in insurgent attacks, killing hundreds of civilians and security forces, particularly in Baluchistan and northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where Dasu is located.

Over the past week, separatist insurgents stormed a government building in Gwadar and a significant naval aviation base in nearby Turbat.

The ensuing gun battles killed around a dozen assailants and left several Pakistani security personnel dead.

Both attacks were claimed by the outlawed Baloch Liberation Army or BLA, which the United States has listed as a global terrorist organization.

The BLA and allied insurgent groups in Baluchistan, which is central to CPEC investments, defend their violent campaign, alleging that Pakistan and China are depriving Balochistan of its natural resources, charges both countries reject.