Militants in Pakistan trying to disrupt construction of the $46bn China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) have killed 44 workers there since 2014, an official said yesterday.
The workers have all been Pakistani, killed by roadside bombs and attacks on construction sites, according to Colonel Zafar Iqbal, spokesman for the army-owned construction group Frontier Works Organisation (FWO), Reuters reports.
CPEC is an ambitious network of roads, railways, pipelines and power generating plants linking western China to a deep-water port at Gwadar on Pakistan’s Arabian Sea coast. It passes through the troubled Baluchistan province, where Gwadar is located.
Baluchistan is a resource-rich region where ethnic Baluch separatists have battled the government for years. They oppose the CPEC.
"The latest figure has climbed up to 44 deaths and over 100 wounded men on CPEC projects mainly road construction in Baluchistan, which began in 2014," Iqbal told Reuters.
Reuters reports that in November 2015, the official figure was 25 killed, indicating that the toll has accelerated this year.
Earlier this year Pakistan’s army sought to reassure China that thousands of Chinese workers and engineers building CPEC would be kept safe by creating a special force of 15,000 troops to guard projects.
FWO has been awarded the bulk of road-building contracts in Baluchistan and other volatile areas in Pakistan.
Security in Pakistan has improved in recent years but Baluch separatists and Islamist groups still launch attacks.
Last month, Islamists killed 74 people in a hospital bombing in the city of Quetta, the provincial capital of Baluchistan.
Image: Traffic on the road to Gwadar Port, Pakistan (Sadiqrizwan/Wikimedia Commons)