Pakistan: 6 Fatalities in suicide attack targeting Chinese Engineers

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PESHAWAR,Pakistan/Reuters/ – A suicide bomber targeted a convoy of Chinese engineers who were working on a dam project in the northwest region of the country on Tuesday in Pakistan. This attack resulted in six fatalities and is the third significant assault on Chinese interests in Pakistan within a week.

Pakistan Dasu bridge

The initial two attacks were directed at an airbase and a strategic port in the southwest province of Balochistan, where China has been investing billions in infrastructure projects.

Pakistan Chinese

The engineers were en route from Islamabad to their camp at the dam construction site in Dasu, located in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, when the attack occurred, according to the regional police chief, Mohammad Ali Gandapur.

Gandapur confirmed that the attack claimed the lives of five Chinese nationals and their Pakistani driver.

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Dasu, the location of a major dam, has been a target of attacks in the past. In 2021, a bus explosion resulted in 13 deaths, including nine Chinese nationals.

Chinese engineers have been involved in numerous projects in Pakistan, with Beijing investing over $65 billion in infrastructure projects as part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) under its broader Belt and Road initiative.

Responsibility for Tuesday’s attack has not been claimed, nor was it for the 2021 attack. Pakistan is grappling with dual insurgencies – one led by Islamists and the other by ethnic militants seeking secession.

Security personnel inspect the site of a suicide attack near Besham city in the Shangla district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on March 26, 2024. Five Chinese nationals working on the Dasu hydropower plant were killed along with their driver on March 26 when a suicide bomber targeted their vehicle in northwest Pakistan, officials said. Photo: AFP

While Chinese interests are primarily targeted by the ethnic militants who aim to expel Beijing from mineral-rich Balochistan, these militants typically operate in the country’s south and southwest, a considerable distance from the site of Tuesday’s attack.

Islamists predominantly operate in the country’s northwest, where the convoy was attacked.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police arrived at the scene and initiated relief operations.

A separate police source informed Reuters that the convoy was transporting staff of the construction firm China Gezhouba Group Company (CGGC), who were working on the Dasu hydropower project – the same company that was targeted in 2021.

Construction activities were halted for several months following that attack.

China’s embassy in Islamabad has not yet responded to a request for comment.

These attacks occur just a week before Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is expected to visit Beijing, according to a source in the Prime Minister’s Office. This will be Sharif’s first visit since assuming office after the February elections.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar condemned the attack and affirmed that the country would continue to combat militants.”

This attack also indicates that there are always terrorist forces in the international and regional arenas that do not want to see the success of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and are constantly scheming to sabotage it.

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