The Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), a militant group which operates mainly in Balochistan province, claimed responsibility for the explosion which ripped through a van inside the Karachi University in southern Pakistan on Tuesday. The BLA said the attack was carried out by a woman suicide bomber.
The bombing at the University of Karachi also wounded a fourth Chinese national, as well as a Pakistani guard accompanying the van, news agency AP quoted university spokesman Mohammad Farooq as saying.
The group’s statement that followed the attack identified the bomber as Shari Baluch or Bramsh, saying she was the group’s first female bomber. The attack marks “a new chapter in the history of Baloch resistance,” the statement said.
The BLA has targeted Chinese nationals in attacks in the past. Balochistan has long been the scene of a low-level insurgency by armed Baloch groups demanding more autonomy and a greater share in the region’s natural resources if not outright independence from Islamabad.
This is the first major attack on Chinese nationals in Pakistan since the bombing of a bus at Dasu in the northwest in July 2021 that killed nine Chinese nationals. However, that attack wasn’t claimed by the Baloch militants. The Pakistani Taliban — also known as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan — had claimed responsibility for the attack. Four Pakistanis had also died in that attack.
Karachi police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon said the initial investigation suggests a suicide bomber was behind the attack. He said closed-circuit television footage from the site showed a person dressed in the female burqa head-to-toe covering walking up to the van, followed by an instantaneous explosion.
The Chinese fatalities included the director of the Chinese-built Confucius Institute, which offers Chinese language graduate classes, and two teachers.
Thousands of Chinese workers are living and working in Pakistan, with most of them involved in Beijing’s multi-billion dollar project known as “One Belt One Road Project” which is to connect the south and central Asia with the Chinese capital.
A key road linking Pakistan’s southern port of Gwadar, in southwestern Baluchistan province, with China’s northwest Xinjiang province, is part of what is known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The project includes a number of infrastructure projects and several power projects.
(With inputs from agencies)