A blast that was set off by a burqa-clad female suicide bomber ripped through a van on the University of Karachi campus in Pakistan Tuesday, killing three Chinese nationals and their driver, local officials said.
Separatist militant group Balochistan Liberation Army claimed responsibility for the bombing, which also injured a fourth Chinese national and a Pakistani guard.
Karachi police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon said an initial investigation uncovered that a suicide bomber was behind the attack. He said that CCTV footage from the site showed a person dressed in the burqa head-to-toe covering walking up to the white van, followed by an explosion.
Balochistan Liberation Army’s spokesperson identified the alleged bomber as Shari Baloch, also known as “Bramsh,” and shared a photo of the young woman smirking and flashing the “V” for victory sign, Republicworld.com reported.
A statement from the extremist group boasted that Baloch was BLA’s first female bomber, and that the attack marks “a new chapter in the history of Baloch resistance.”
The Chinese fatalities included Huang Guiping, the director of the Chinese-built Confucius Institute, which offers Chinese language graduate classes, and two teachers, Ding Mupeng and Chen Sa.
The Chinese Embassy in Pakistan confirmed the deaths of three Chinese teachers in what it called a terrorist attack Tuesday evening, saying an additional teacher, identified as Wang Yuqing, was injured, Geo News reported.
“The Chinese embassy and consulate in Pakistan strongly condemn this terrorist act, express deep condolences to the victims of the two countries and sincere condolences to the injured and their relatives, and will make every effort to deal with the incident along with the Pakistani side,” a statement on the embassy website said.
The embassy asked Pakistan “to make every effort to treat the wounded, conduct a thorough investigation of the attack, and severely punish the perpetrator.” It called on Pakistan to ensure the safety of Chinese citizens in the country.
Hours after the bombing, the US Consulate in the port city of Karachi on Twitter condemned the attack, saying: “This cowardly act stands in direct contrast to the peaceful spirit of Ramadan, and we offer our deepest condolences to the victims and their families and those who lost their loved ones.”
In Islamabad, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry in a statement condemned the attack and the killing of Chinese in Karachi. “The cowardly incident is a direct attack on the Pakistan-China friendship and ongoing cooperation,” it said and added authorities were investigating the incident to apprehend the culprits and bring them to justice.
Pakistan’s newly elected Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif called the bombing “heinous” saying “the perpetrators will surely be brought to justice.”
He also visited the Chinese Embassy along with Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah in Islamabad to convey his condolences to Beijing over the killing of the Chinese in Karachi.
The Baluchistan Liberation Army, a militant group in nearby Baluchistan province, has targeted Chinese nationals in attacks in the past.
Earlier this year, the separatists attacked two army bases in southwestern Baluchistan, killing seven soldiers, and it lost 13 of the attackers in an hours-long gun-battle with the Pakistan army.
The blast was the first major attack against Chinese nationals in Pakistan since last year when a suicide bomber blew up a passenger bus in northern Pakistan that killed 13 people, including nine Chinese.
Baluchistan has long been the scene of a low-level insurgency by armed Baluch groups demanding more autonomy and a greater share in the region’s natural resources if not outright independence from Islamabad.
However, the Pakistani Taliban have also targeted Chinese internationals in the past. Last July, the group — also known as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan — claimed responsibility for an attack on a bus that killed nine Chinese nationals in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Four Pakistanis also died in that attack.
The Pakistani Taliban are a separate group from the Afghan Taliban, their allies who have seized power in neighboring Afghanistan.
Thousands of Chinese workers are living and working in Pakistan, with most of them involved in Beijing’s multibillion-dollar “One Belt One Road Project” that is to connect south and central Asia with the Chinese capital.
A key road linking Pakistan’s southern port of Gwadar, in southwestern Balochistan 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 Post Wires