Suicide bomber hits Chinese nationals headed to power plant

SHANGLA, PAKISTAN – A devastating suicide bombing in northwest Pakistan resulted in the death of five Chinese nationals and their Pakistani driver on Tuesday. The incident was confirmed by local law enforcement and government officials.

The fatal attack took place in Shangla, a district located within the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, according to Bakhat Zahir, the local police chief. The victims, identified as construction workers and engineers, were en route to the Dasu Dam, Pakistan’s largest hydropower project, where they were employed. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which shares a border with Afghanistan, has seen an increase in attacks by the Pakistani Taliban in recent years.

Following the attack, the victims’ bodies were moved to a nearby hospital. Security forces immediately initiated a comprehensive search operation in the vicinity for potential accomplices, while police began an investigation into the incident.

This tragic event occurred less than a week after Pakistani security forces neutralized eight militants from the Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA). The militants had attacked a convoy transporting Chinese citizens near the Chinese-funded Gwadar port in the unstable southwestern Baluchistan province. The BLA seeks independence from the central government in Islamabad.

Mohsin Naqvi, Pakistan’s Interior Minister, expressed his condemnation of the attack and extended his condolences to the bereaved families. He emphasized that the perpetrators, who targeted Pakistan’s Chinese allies, would be dealt with sternly. Naqvi also expressed optimism that the incident would not strain the relationship between Pakistan and China.

The Interior Minister also visited the Chinese embassy in Islamabad, where he briefed the Chinese ambassador, Jiang Zaidong, about the attack and assured a thorough investigation.

Shangla hosts thousands of Chinese nationals working on various projects related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which includes massive undertakings like road construction, power plants, and agriculture. The CPEC, also known as the One Road Project, is a critical lifeline for Pakistan’s economically challenged government and forms part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. This initiative aims to recreate the Silk Road and connect China with all parts of Asia.

Chinese workers involved in CPEC-related projects in Pakistan have been targeted in previous attacks. In July 2021, a suicide bomber detonated his vehicle near a bus transporting Chinese and Pakistani engineers and laborers, killing at least 13 people, including nine Chinese nationals. Since then, security measures for CPEC-related projects have been significantly enhanced.