Pakistan bus blast: 9 Chinese engineers killed; China blames 'bombing'
At least 13 people were killed, including nine Chinese engineers in a blast on a bus in northern Pakistan on Wednesday. The blast, which took place in the upper Kohistan district, also left 28 other Chinese nationals injured, reports said. The bus was reportedly carrying Chinese engineers, surveyors, and mechanical staff to the Dasu dam site in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which is under construction.
While officials quoted by news agencies said that the blast was huge, it is still not clear whether it was the result of a roadside device or a device planted inside the bus. "The bus plunged into a deep ravine after the blast and caused heavy losses. Rescue operations are launched and entire government machinery is mobilized to rescue the injured," an official said.
China condemned the "bombing" and asked Pakistan to investigate the incident. Notably, a large number of Chinese nationals are residing in the country to supervise various infrastructure projects funded by China. However, the safety of Chinese nationals is a concern for Beijing as many Pakistani separatist groups target them to mark their opposition to Chinese-backed projects in the country.
Following the blast, China has urged its firms to step up their security. Condemning the attack on its nationals, Beijing asked Pakistan to ensure the safety of Chinese personnel, institutions, and projects. Meanwhile, the Chinese embassy in Pakistan put out a statement saying "a certain project of a Chinese firm in Pakistan suffered an attack, which caused the deaths of Chinese nationals."
Calling it a "cowardly attack," Babar Awan, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs, said on the floor of Pakistan's National Assembly that the attack "would not divert attention from the special initiatives between Pakistan and its neighbors." Meanwhile, Moazzam Jah Ansari, the Inspector General of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, where the blast took place, told Reuters that the attack "looks like sabotage."
Meanwhile, this is not the first incident where Chinese nationals were targeted in Pakistan. In April, the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for a deadly suicide attack at a hotel targeting the Chinese Ambassador, who remained unhurt. In 2019, gunmen killed eight people in a hotel overlooking a Chinese-backed project in Balochistan. Baloch insurgents also attacked the Pakistan Stock Exchange (partly owned by the Chinese).