Authorities in southwest Pakistan said Sunday that a group of insurgents attacked a convoy carrying Chinese engineers to the Chinese-administered Port of Gwadar in the Arabian Sea. No Chinese nationals were injured in the incident.
The ambush was preceded by the detonation of a roadside bomb, before continuing with gunfire at several “bullet-proof” cars reportedly transporting 23 Chinese nationals from the airport to a strategic Pakistani port in deep water.
Pakistani police and military officials said an exchange of fire with security forces escorting the convoy killed two “terrorists.” Several security officers were also injured.
The Chinese Embassy in Islamabad said, “This incident did not result in any casualties on the Chinese side, and the personnel concerned have been safely deployed.” But the embassy also urged the Pakistani authorities to thoroughly investigate the “terrorist act” and “severely punish” those behind it.
The statement called on host governments to take “practical and effective” steps to counter such incidents in the future. “China will continue to cooperate with the Pakistani side to jointly counter the threat of terrorism and earnestly protect the safety of Chinese personnel, institutions and projects in Pakistan,” the statement added.
There was no immediate comment from the Pakistani government, but Pakistan’s military said “Pakistan’s security forces remain determined to thwart the efforts of the enemies of peace and prosperity in this country.” Pakistan’s military also detailed the actions of its forces against the ambush.
Baluchistan Liberation Army separatist group BLA claimed responsibility for Sunday’s ambush in Gwadar, by
said they killed several Chinese workers and Pakistani security forces escorting the convoy.
This banned group often releases exaggerated claims.
The BLA has previously targeted Chinese personnel working on infrastructure development projects under CPEC’s “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor”. The multibillion-dollar flagship program is the largest expansion of China’s “Belt and Road” infrastructure initiative. The port of Gwadar in southwestern Baluchistan province is the hub of CPEC, linking the two countries and providing China with the shortest trade access to international markets.
China is also building an international airport at Gwadar. Pakistani officials hope the airport will be inaugurated next month.
Pakistan, America and Britain have designated BLA as a global terrorist organization. Like other Baluch rebel groups, the BLA is strongly opposed to CPEC and other Chinese investments in Baluchistan, and has publicly threatened to attack Chinese workers associated with the projects.
Recent insurgent attacks have killed more than ten Chinese nationals, prompting Beijing to pressure Islamabad to ensure security measures for CPEC projects and its citizens in Pakistan.
China has recently severely restricted the movement of its diplomats and workers and has avoided visiting certain cities in Pakistan for security reasons.
Last month, Chinese Deputy Premier He Lifeng visited Islamabad to participate in a government-sponsored ceremony to mark ten years of CPEC collaboration. Officials in China and Pakistan say they have created nearly 200,000 local jobs, built more than 1,400 kilometers of highways and expressways, and added 8,000 megawatts of electricity to the national grid, ending years of blackouts caused by power outages in Pakistan.
Source : VOA News