KARACHI: At least four people, including three citizens of China, were killed in the southern Pakistani port of Karachi on Tuesday, in a suicide blast that security forces said had specifically targeted the Chinese.
The explosion ripped through a van carrying the Chinese near a campus of Karachi University about 2 p.m. local time. The separatist Baloch Liberation Army claimed responsibility and said a woman suicide bomber carried out the attack.
Chinese targets have frequently been attacked by separatists from Balochistan, where Beijing is involved in huge infrastructure projects as part of its Belt and Road Initiative.
“Three Chinese nationals and one Pakistani (have) been killed in the blast, which specifically targeted Chinese nationals,” Counter Terrorism Department officer Raja Umar Khattak told Arab News.
Karachi Police Additional Inspector General Ghulam Nabi Memon also confirmed to Arab News that the Chinese were the main target and that the attack was carried out by a woman.
“A burqa-clad woman approached near the van and the blast took place,” he said.
The bombing was the first major attack on Chinese nationals in Pakistan since last year when a suicide bomber blew up a passenger bus, killing 13 people, including nine Chinese workers employed at the Dasu Hydropower Project in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Tuesday’s attack is also the first big challenge for newly elected Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who expressed sorrow over the loss of citizens from Pakistan’s long-time ally, which has been developing the South Asian nation’s major infrastructure projects.
“I strongly condemn this cowardly act of terrorism,” Sharif tweeted. “The perpetrators will surely be brought to justice.”
Beijing has pledged over $60 billion for infrastructure projects in Pakistan under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor framework that is a central part of China’s initiative to forge new “Silk Road” land and sea ties to markets in the Middle East and Europe.