China asks Pakistan to thoroughly probe suicide attack on its nationals

Beijing: China has asked Pakistan to “thoroughly investigate” and “hunt down” the perpetrators behind the March 26 suicide attack on Chinese citizens amid speculation that Beijing may push Islamabad to accept its security agencies to guard the CPEC projects following a spike in attacks on them in the last few days.

At least five Chinese nationals were among the six persons killed on March 26 when an explosives-packed vehicle rammed into their bus in Pakistan’s troubled province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in the second suicide attack on the personnel working on the China-backed hydropower project since 2021.

“China asks Pakistan to thoroughly investigate the incident as soon as possible, hunt down the perpetrators, and bring them to justice,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian told a media briefing here when asked about Beijing’s response to the suicide attack, the second on Chinese nationals in the area since 2021.

Notwithstanding the recurring terror attacks, China continues to back Pakistan, its iron-clad ally to protect thousands of its nationals working on the USD 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.

Lin said, “China firmly supports Pakistan in fighting terrorism. China and Pakistan have the resolve and capability to make the terrorists pay the price.” “Our two countries are all-weather strategic cooperative partners. Our iron-clad friendship is deeply rooted in the two peoples. No attempt to sabotage China-Pakistan cooperation will ever succeed”, he said.

Concerns about the safety of thousands of Chinese personnel working in the USD 60 billion CPEC are mounting in the Islamic nation as it was the third major attack on Chinese projects in Pakistan in a week. Earlier, militants targeted a naval airbase and the strategic Gwadar port, the prime project of CPEC connecting with China’s Xinjiang.

Chinese analysts say that attacks are being carried out by Islamic religious extremist groups besides the separatist Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), which is opposed to China’s investments in Balochistan and accuses China and Pakistan of the exploitation of the resource-rich province.

Earlier reports from Islamabad said China has been pressing Pakistan to permit its agencies to provide security for the Chinese personnel but Pakistan, which deployed a special force, was averse to Chinese boots on the ground.

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