KARACHI: A provincial minister in Pakistan’s Sindh province said on Tuesday the mastermind of a suicide bombing at Karachi University in which three Chinese teachers were killed in April had entered Pakistan from a ‘neighboring country.’
Though the minister, Sharjeel Inaam Memon, did not name a specific country, Pakistan has often blamed neighbors India and Afghanistan, and sometimes Iran, for allowing militants to use their soil to launch attacks across the border.
On April 26, a bomb blast that ripped through a passenger van killed three Chinese nationals and a Pakistani in the southern port city of Karachi. Pakistan said the attack was carried out by a woman suicide bomber linked to a separatist group, the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), which is based in southwestern Balochistan province bordering Afghanistan and Iran.
Militant groups based in Balochistan have frequently targeted Chinese interests in Pakistan, where Beijing has invested over $60 billion in infrastructure and energy projects as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Police in Karachi said on Monday a key suspect in the April bombing had been arrested.
“Zaib, mastermind of Karachi university suicide attack, entered Pakistan from a neighboring country and upon reaching Karachi he resided with female suicide bomber Shari Hayat Baloch alias Barmash and her husband Habitan Bashir, in a flat in Dehli colony of Karachi,” Memon, Sindh minister for information, told reporters about what had been revealed in interrogations with the arrested suspect, identified as Dad Bux.
Memon said Bux had disclosed that the mastermind, an expert in making IEDs, had fled to Balochistan immediately after the blast on the order of BLF [Baluch Liberation Front] commander Khalil Baloch alias Musa.
“The terrorists were in contact through telegram. This network of the terrorists uses soil of a foreign country and the network of these proscribed organizations is spread to several foreign countries,” Memon said, adding that the Karachi university blast was the joint work of the separatist BLA and BLF groups.
Memon said it was “inappropriate” to name the neighboring country in front of reporters but a message would be conveyed by the federal government through proper diplomatic channels.
“But whichever country is involved [...] our work is to trace and give strict punishment to those involved and give the message that nobody can cast a dirty eye on Pakistan,” Memon said. “A message will also be conveyed by the federal government that your soil is being used for terrorism ... and then that country will also be warned while taking care of whatever diplomat norms.”
At a meeting on Monday, CM Murad Ali Shah and a Chinese delegation led by deputy director-general of China’s Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) Gao Fei, discussed security arrangements for Chinese nationals working in Sindh, according to a statement.
The chief minister said his government had deployed 3,361 security officials, including 1,500 police, 517 army personnel, 173 Rangers, 28 Frontier Corps (FC) personnel and 1,143 private security guards, for the security of 3,637 Chinese nationals, who were working on eight CPEC projects in Sindh.
“The Chinese delegation told the chief minister that they were technically strengthening CTD and the Special Branch of Sindh Police,” the statement read.
The Karachi University 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 nationals working on the Dasu Hydropower project in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.