Five Chinese workers killed in Pakistan suicide attack

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province is in the mountainous northwest of Pakistan (Skazimr/CC BY-SA 3.0)

Five Chinese workers and their driver were killed yesterday by a suicide bomber in northwest Pakistan, the Associated Press news agency reports

The bomber attacked a convoy of workers travelling from Islamabad through the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to their camp near the Dasu dam, the country’s largest hydropower project.

China Gezhouba Group is building the dam.

The same project and company were attacked three years ago. Nine Chinese workers and four Pakistani nationals died in that incident (see further reading).

China condemned Tuesday’s attack. The Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued today: “China asks Pakistan to thoroughly investigate the incident as soon as possible, hunt down the perpetrators and bring them to justice.”

Shehbaz Sharif, Pakistan’s prime minister, offered condolences during a visit to the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad, where he met Beijing’s ambassador.

Ishaq Dar, the foreign minister of Pakistan, added that the attack was “orchestrated by the enemies of Pakistan-China friendship. We will resolutely act against all such forces and defeat them”.

No group has claimed responsibility for the blast, which is the third in a week to hit the country.

In April 2022, the separatist Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) carried out a suicide bombing that killed three Chinese teachers and their Pakistani driver at the University of Karachi.

“Conscious effort to retard our progress”

Pakistan’s military said the attacks were aimed at destabilising the country’s internal security and its relationship with China. It issued a statement that said: “Strategic projects and sensitive sites vital for Pakistan’s economic progress and the wellbeing of its people are being targeted as a conscious effort to retard our progress and sow discord between Pakistan and its strategic allies and partners, most notably China.”

Without naming any country, the military’s statement also accused “certain foreign elements” of abetting terrorism in Pakistan.

In November 2018, the BLA claimed responsibility for an attack on the Chinese consulate in the city of Karachi, which killed four people. 

Half a year later, a separatist group attacked a luxury hotel in Gwadar, often used by Chinese nationals working at the port. 

In June 2020, the BLA said it was responsible for another deadly attack on the Pakistan Stock Exchange, where Chinese companies own 40% of the stakes.

In August last year, BLA militants opened fire on a Pakistani military convoy in Gwadar as it was escorting a delegation of Chinese nationals to a construction project. On that occasion, two militants were killed and no harm was caused to any military personnel or civilians.

The main work on the $4.8bn Dasu Dam has been underway since 2018 and it is expected to begin generating power this year.

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