Five Chinese and their driver killed in suicide bombing in Pakistan

(Peshawar) Five Chinese nationals working on the construction of a dam and their Pakistani driver were killed on Tuesday in a suicide attack targeting their vehicle in northwest Pakistan, with China condemning a “terrorist action”.

The safety of Chinese personnel working on various infrastructure projects in Pakistan has long been a concern for Beijing, which has invested billions of dollars in the country.

“Five Chinese and their local driver were killed in the attack”, which occurred in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Muhammad Ali Gandapur, a senior local police official, told AFP.

The group had left the Dasu hydroelectric dam, built by a Chinese company, when a vehicle hit theirs on a mountainous road near the town of Besham, according to the same source. After the explosion, their car plunged into a ravine.

In July 2021, nine Chinese were killed in an attack on a bus transporting executives and employees working on the construction of the same dam.

The Pakistani government blamed the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Pakistani Taliban, for the attack. But Islamabad was slow to recognize that it was an attack, which caused tensions with Beijing, even though it is a close ally.

“The Pakistani government will conduct a thorough and prompt high-level investigation into this accident, and ensure that its perpetrators and those who facilitated it are brought to justice,” Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said.

The Chinese embassy in Islamabad said it “strongly condemned this terrorist action” and expressed its “deep condolences to the victims in both countries”.

Pakistan has been facing a deterioration in security for several months, particularly since the return to power of the Taliban in Kabul in August 2021, particularly in this region bordering Afghanistan.

Most attacks in this area are attributed to the TTP, or groups affiliated with it.

Strong resentment

In April 2021, the TTP claimed responsibility for a suicide attack against a luxury hotel in Quetta (west), capital of Balochistan province, where the Chinese ambassador was staying, who emerged unhurt.

Chinese interests have often been targeted in Balochistan (southwest). This province is rich in hydrocarbons and minerals, but its population complains of being marginalized and robbed of its natural resources.

Last week, the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), a Baloch separatist movement, carried out an attack on premises at the strategic port of Gwadar, the keystone of a vast Chinese project, in the same province.

Two soldiers and eight rebels were killed, according to the Army Communications Service (ISPR).

In Pakistan, separatist groups in particular harbor strong resentment against Chinese-funded projects, seen as bringing no benefit to the local population, with most jobs going to Chinese labor.

The BLA has already claimed responsibility for several attacks against Chinese targets, citing the control of local resources by Islamabad and Beijing.

In April 2022, three Chinese staff members of the Confucius Institute and their Pakistani driver were killed in a suicide attack carried out by a female suicide bomber belonging to the BLA, in Karachi (south).

In May 2019, this movement killed at least eight people by attacking the luxury hotel overlooking the deep water port of Gwadar.

This port is a flagship project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), for which Beijing was expected to spend more than 50 billion US dollars.

This corridor aimed at connecting western China to the Indian Ocean via Pakistan is itself part of the vast Chinese “Belt and Road” initiative. Its objective is to improve trade links between Asia, Europe, Africa and even beyond through the construction of ports, railways, airports and industrial parks.

Six months earlier, the BLA had carried out an assault on the Chinese consulate in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city and its economic and financial capital, killing at least four people.

And in June 2020, it attacked the Karachi Stock Exchange, partly owned by Chinese companies (at least four deaths).


Leave a Comment