A suicide bombing inside the University of Karachi premises on Tuesday killed three Chinese nationals and their Pakistani driver. At least six more people were injured, including security forces personnel part of the security provided to the Chinese.
A woman bomber in a burqa struck a van near the China-built Confucius Institute in the university in what is believed be the latest targeted attack against Chinese citizens in Pakistan. The outlawed Baloch Liberation Army has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The Confucius Institute is a non-profit institute teaching teaching Chinese language to locals. The three killed Chinese national include its director, according to the university spokesperson.
CCTV footage of the attack showed a burqa-clad woman standing outside the entrance of the Confucius Institute. She detonated herself just as the van neared the institute’s entrance, according to Dawn newspaper.
Karachi police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon said that it was unfortunate that teachers had been targeted. Asked whether a threat had been issued prior to the attack, he said that there was “always a threat”. He added that tight security arrangements were already in place at the university.
Videos of the blast-hit van were also posted on social media with flames of fire completely destroying the vehicle as police and paramilitary Rangers reached the scene immediately and cordoned off the areas.
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah directed the Counter-Terrorism Department and SSP East to immediately reach the site of the incident. He also asked the Karachi commissioner to submit a report. He later visited the Chinese Consulate where he briefed Consul General Li Bijian about the blast.
The chief minister assured the Chinese official that the incident would be fully investigated, as per a statement from the CM’s office.
Shah said, “Those involved in the incident will be brought to justice. We value the services rendered by Chinese experts in the country and the province. Some elements do not like the partnership between the two countries.”
Shah added that the miscreants behind the incident would be dealt with an iron hand.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also expressed grief over the blast and assured Shah of the Centre’s full help and cooperation in dealing with such incidents.
He said, My heartfelt condolences go to the bereaved families. I strongly condemn this cowardly act of terrorism. The perpetrators will surely be brought to justice.”
The Prime Minister said that terrorists are enemies of Pakistan. He vowed to eliminate the remainder of terrorists through collective efforts and unity. He directed for the provision of the best medical facilities to the injured.
— Prime Minister’s Office (@PakPMO) April 26, 2022
Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari also condemned the attack. “Sindh police will soon get to the bottom of the incident,” he said, adding that the perpetrators would be punished. He called for steps to be taken to ensure the safety of Chinese citizens.
The Foreign Office spokesperson condemned the attack, offering condolences and sympathies to the families of victims, and saying “we strongly condemn the reprehensible terrorist attack in Karachi which claimed innocent lives, including those of Chinese nationals working at the Confucius Institute”. It added that the “cowardly incident is a direct attack on the Pakistan-China friendship and ongoing cooperation”.
It added, “Pakistan and China are close friends and iron-brothers. Pakistan attaches great importance to the safety and security of Chinese nationals, projects and institutions in Pakistan.”
This is not the first time Chinese nationals have been the target of terror attacks in Karachi, which is Pakistan’s biggest city and economic hub.
In July last year, masked armed men on a motorcycle opened fire on a vehicle carrying two Chinese nationals in Karachi in which one of them was critically wounded.
In the same month, nearly a dozen Chinese engineers were killed when a bus carrying construction workers was “attacked” in northwest Pakistan.
In November 2018, Baloch separatist militants had attacked the Chinese consulate in Karachi but failed to break through the security barrier with three of them killed on the spot.
Outlawed militant separatist groups in the restive Balochistan province have claimed several attacks on Chinese nationals who work in large numbers in different parts of Pakistan particularly Balochistan and Karachi because of the USD 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.
Thousands of Chinese personnel are working in Pakistan on a host of projects being carried out under the aegis of the CPEC.
(With PTI inputs)