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Print

Bus blast kills 13, including 9 Chinese

• China terms incident ‘bomb blast’ PESHAWAR/BEIJING: A blast on a bus killed 13 people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa...
15 Jul 2021

PESHAWAR/BEIJING: A blast on a bus killed 13 people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Wednesday, including nine Chinese nationals. Two Pakistani soldiers were also among the dead after the explosion sent the bus over a ravine, local government and police sources told Reuters.

Chinese engineers and Pakistani construction workers have for several years been working on hydroelectric projects as part of Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where the blast occurred.

China's embassy in Pakistan confirmed that nine of its nationals died. Terming the explosion a bomb attack but not giving more details, the Chinese foreign ministry offered condolences and urged both a thorough investigation and protection of its personnel and projects.

Pakistan's foreign ministry said a mechanical failure caused a gas leak which led to the explosion.

However, the province's top police official, Inspector General Moazzam Jah Ansari, earlier told Reuters foul play was suspected. "Looks like sabotage," he said.

A senior administrative officer of the Hazara region, who asked not to be named, said the bus was carrying more than 30 Chinese engineers to the Dasu dam in Upper Kohistan.

BILLIONS OF INVESTMENT

The Dasu hydroelectric project is part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a $65 billion investment plan aiming to link western China to the southern Pakistani port of Gwadar.

"This is clearly an act of terrorism that has been carefully planned and was supported by information," said an editorial in Global Times, a Chinese tabloid run by the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily, calling it the most serious attack on Chinese nationals in recent years.

Using an air ambulance, rescuers took the injured, including Chinese engineers, to a hospital in Dasu, about 10 km (6 miles) from the blast site, authorities said.

"Police and the bomb disposal squad are at the site," added regional official Arif Khan Yousufzai outside the hospital, adding that an investigation was awaited to ascertain details.-Reuters

BR correspondent Amjad Ali Shah from Peshawar adds: According to Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Arif, the blast took place near the Barsin Labor Camp, injuring 39 people.

The deputy commissioner said the vehicle was carrying personnel working on Dasu Dam.

Security teams along with the bomb disposal squad also rushed the site.

Special Assistant to the KP Chief Minister on Information Kamran Khan Bangash had earlier said a high level delegation has left for Upper Kohistan, adding that officials will shortly inform the people and the media about the “ground realities”. “The media is advised to avoid speculating on the matter,” he said.

Bangash said a large number of security officials have been deployed to protect Chinese nationals. The critically injured persons are being shifted via helicopter, he said. A large number of Rescue 1122 ambulances and officials reached the spot, he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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