Caixin
Aug 13, 2021 08:06 PM
WORLD

Islamabad Blames Pakistani Taliban for Suicide Bombing That Killed Chinese Workers

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (right) and a top official at the country's counter-terrorism department speak Thursday at a press conference in Islamabad about July’s  bus bombing that killed nine Chinese nationals. Photo: VCG
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (right) and a top official at the country's counter-terrorism department speak Thursday at a press conference in Islamabad about July’s bus bombing that killed nine Chinese nationals. Photo: VCG

The explosion on a bus in northern Pakistan that killed nine Chinese nationals and three Pakistanis last month was a suicide bombing carried out by the Taliban movement in Pakistan, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

The terrorist attack was planned in Afghanistan, which also provided material support, and the suicide bomber was trained in Afghanistan and brought to Pakistan to carry out the attack, the ministry said in a statement. Some of those involved have been arrested, while others remain in Afghanistan, the statement said.

“The Government of Pakistan reiterates its strong commitment to apprehend all those responsible for this heinous crime and bring them to justice,” the ministry said.

The explosion took place on July 14 on a bus transporting Chinese and Pakistani workers to the site of a hydropower project. Pakistan later “confirmed traces of explosives” were found, according to the country’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, who said at the time that terrorism could not be ruled out as the cause of the blast.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said Thursday that “China expresses appreciation for Pakistan’s active efforts” in investigating the attack, and that “China firmly opposes any force using terrorism to seek geopolitical gain.”

“China and Pakistan will follow the important consensus reached by leaders on both sides, ascertain all facts and truth, hold the culprits accountable and bring them to justice,” she said, adding that the two countries will “keep strengthening security cooperation mechanisms to ensure the safety of Chinese projects, people and institutions in Pakistan.”

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said at a news conference Thursday that the attack was carried out by Pakistani Taliban militants, known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), backed by Indian and Afghan intelligence agencies, Reuters reported.

Javed Iqbal, a senior Pakistani counterterrorism police officer, said at the news conference that the attackers rammed an explosive-laden car into the bus and that “around 100 to 120 kgs of high explosive were used in the car bombing,” according to the Reuters report.

Following the bus blast, Pakistan and China initially differed sharply over what happened. The Pakistani Foreign Ministry blamed a “mechanical failure resulting in leakage of gas,”while Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian blamed a “bomb attack” for the Chinese casualties.

Chaudhry, the information minister, later wrote on Twitter that traces of explosives were found during a preliminary investigation.

In a phone conversation with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Premier Li Keqiang urged the country to “use all necessary means to find out the facts in a serious and responsible manner, and ensure that the perpetrators behind the incident are brought to justice,” according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency.

Chinese Public Security Minister Zhao Kezhi has also spoke with his Pakistani counterpart over the phone, while China’s Ministry of Public Security sent criminal investigation experts to Pakistan to assist with the probe, according to Xinhua.

Contact reporter Cai Xuejiao (xuejiaocai@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)

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