A bomb blast on a minibus killed three Chinese employed at Karachi University’s Confucius Institute on Tuesday, in the first major attack in Pakistan on nationals of long time ally China since last year. The three were among passengers on a van travelling near the university when the bomb exploded, killing the Chinese and a fourth person, a Pakistani driver.
The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) separatist group claimed responsibility for the blast, adding that it had been carried out by a woman suicide bomber.
The blast was the first major attack in an urban area of Pakistan since Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif took power this month. He condemned what he called a cowardly act of terrorism.
“I am deeply grieved on the loss of precious lives including of our Chinese friends in the heinous attack in Karachi today,” Sharif said in a statement.
Pakistan’s foreign office also condemned the attack.
“The cowardly incident is a direct attack on the Pakistan-China friendship and ongoing cooperation,” Pakistan’s foreign office statement said “Pakistan attaches great importance to safety and security of Chinese nationals, projects and institutions in Pakistan,” it added.
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China’s embassy in Islamabad said all three citizens killed in the attack were teachers at the institute, and that a fourth had been injured.
It also warned its nationals to pay close attention to security and “not go out unless necessary”.
“At the same time”, the embassy said in a statement, “all levels in Pakistan are requested to take practical and effective measures to do everything possible to ensure the safety of Chinese citizens, institutions and projects in Pakistan and ensure that similar incidents do not occur again.”
“The Chinese Embassy in Pakistan strongly condemned this terrorist act, and urges Pakistan to make every effort to treat the injured, conduct a thorough investigation into the attack and severely punish the perpetrators,” it said.
In February, Baloch separatists staged four days of attacks across two locations in the province, killing nine soldiers.
Tensions have flared in recent years in Balochistan following a massive influx of Chinese investment.
China is upgrading energy links and infrastructure as part of a $54 billion programme known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, with both nations wary of security threats to the projects.
In April 2021 a suicide bomb attack at a luxury hotel hosting the Chinese ambassador in Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan, killed four and wounded dozens.
(With inputs from agencies)