At least thirteen people, including nine Chinese engineers, were killed in a blast targeting a bus in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in northern Pakistan on Wednesday morning, a Pakistani government source has confirmed.
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The explosion hit the bus carrying Chinese workers and engineers to the construction site of Dasu dam in Upper Kohistan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, a local government official told Anadolu Agency on the condition of anonymity.
“Apparently it was carried out through an improvised explosive device,” the official said.
He said seven Chinese nationals and two Pakistani paramilitary soldiers died on the spot, while at least eight others are critically injured who have been shifted to a hospital. While the area has been cordoned off, police are on the site for further investigation, the official added.
The Dasu hydropower project is part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a $65 billion project aimed at connecting China’s northwestern Xinjiang province to the port of Gwadar in Balochistan.
Pakistan is a close ally of China, and a large number of Chinese nationals are based in the country to supervise the infrastructure projects. Pakistan’s army created a special security division for the security of CPEC and its workforce.
Adviser to the PM Imran Khan – Babar Awan termed it a “cowardly attack” and said that it would “not divert attention from the special initiatives between Pakistan and its neighbors”. Awan said that he will ask Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed to give a briefing on the country’s security situation.
In April, a bomb explosion at a luxury hotel in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province, killed at least five people. Chinese ambassador Nong Rong was staying at the hotel, but was not present there when the blast occurred.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban terrorist group had claimed responsibility for the attack. In 2018, separatists killed at least four people in an attack on the Chinese consulate in the port city of Karachi.
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Beijing has demanded a thorough probe, and punishment to those behind the attack.
“Pakistani security forces have taken measures to control the situation and properly evacuated and treated the wounded,” Zhao Lijian, spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry told a news conference in Beijing.
“China has asked Pakistan to thoroughly investigate, arrest perpetrators, and protect the Chinese people’s safety,” the state-run Global Times newspaper quoted him as saying.
Meanwhile, the Taliban have taken control of an important strategic point on the border with Pakistan.
The seized area is part of the Spin Boldak district in the east of the Kandahar province. According to the source, it is a strategically important link in the cross-border trade with Pakistan.
The confrontation between Afghan government forces and Taliban militants has been on the rise since the foreign troops began to withdraw. The Taliban intensified advances in the country’s northern parts, in particular, and succeeded in seizing large rural areas.
Last week, the radical movement claimed to have established control over nearly half of Afghanistan’s roughly 400 districts, a statement refuted by Kabul.