• BLA claims it was their first suicide attack by fellow woman member of organisation
KARACHI: At least four persons, three Chinese nationals among them, were killed and four others injured when an explosion ripped through a van on Tuesday near the Confucius Institute, located on the premises of University of Karachi, police said.
Sindh’s Inspector General of Police Mushtaq Maher said the blast ripped through the vehicle at about 2:30pm when it was near the university’s Commerce Department.
“Report indicates four casualties which include Chinese citizens,” he said.
The banned Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) reportedly claimed responsibility for the ‘suicide attack’.
Following the explosion, rescue teams and heavy contingents of law enforcement agencies rushed to the scene, cordoned it off, and initiated rescue operations.
Chief of the Counter-Terrorism Department Raja Umar Khattab confirmed that it was a suicide attack.
He told media personnel that an extremist group had claimed responsibility for the attack, adding that its members targeted the vehicle carrying the foreigners after monitoring their movements.
CCTV footage of the incident showed a woman wearing a burqa standing near the entrance of the Confucius Institute. The woman blew herself up when the van approached the institute’s entrance.
The Chinese nationals hit in the blast were members of the institute’s faculty. The deceased were identified as the director of the Confucius Institute, Huang Guiping, Ding Mupeng, Chen Sai, and their Pakistani driver, Khalid.
A police report said three to four kilogrammes of explosives were used in the explosion.
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah directed the provincial IGP to conduct a ‘security audit’ of all the Chinese nationals living in Sindh in connection with projects related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and also those working for other projects, and submit a report to him.
The chief minister also visited the Chinese Consulate to express sorrow and grief over the incident to the Chinese Consul General, Li Bijian.
He shared the details of the incident with the Consul General and said the incident would be investigated thoroughly.
He assured the senior Chinese diplomat that the culprits would be brought to book. Shah said that China’s role in development of Pakistan, particularly Sindh, was important and that such incidents could not affect the strong relationship between the two countries.
He informed the consul general that his government would make all the arrangements for sending the bodies of the deceased to China, for which he needed guidance.
Shah also told the consul general that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had talked to him by telephone to get details of the tragic incident.
Consul General Li thanked the chief minister for his visit and said he was in contact with the families of the three Chinese nationals killed in the blast. “Whatever decision is taken in respect of shifting the dead bodies back to China would be conveyed to the Sindh government,” he said.
For his part, Prime Minister Sharif expressed grief and sorrow over the loss of precious lives in the incident.
“I am deeply grieved on the loss of precious lives including our Chinese friends in the heinous attack in Karachi today. My heartfelt condolences go to the bereaved families. I strongly condemn this cowardly act of terrorism. The perpetrators will surely be brought to justice,” he said in a tweet.
Former prime minister Imran Khan also criticised the incident. “Strongly condemn the terrorist attack targeting Chinese teachers of Karachi University. This is yet another attack with a specific agenda of trying to undermine Pak-China strategic r’ship. We must ensure defeat of this foreign-backed agenda of our enemies,” he tweeted.
The University of Karachi had recently sent a letter to the Confucius Institute and had expressed concerns over the security of the foreign teachers.
In the letter dated April 1, 2022, the university had said the foreign teachers were often seen travelling outside the university premises without the security personnel accompanying them.
“In case of any mishaps, the university security will not be responsible,” the letter had said.
After the incident, the university issued a notification which announced the suspension of classes on Wednesday (today).
Agencies add: A woman suicide bomber from a separatist group killed four people, including three Chinese nationals, in an attack on a minibus carrying staff from a Beijing cultural programme at Karachi University.
The Baloch Liberation Army claimed responsibility, saying it was their first suicide attack by a woman assailant.
CCTV footage broadcast by local channels showed a woman standing near the gate of a Confucius Institute — the cultural programme that China operates at universities around the world — as a minibus pulls up.
When the vehicle gets to within a metre she turns her back on it and detonates a bomb strapped to her body.
“We were having a meeting at the dean’s office when we heard the deafening blast,” said Naeema Saeed, a professor at the criminology department of the university.
“It seemed that the roof was falling or the earth was torn. We all rushed outside. We looked around and saw smoke rising.”
The “Baloch Liberation Army accepts responsibility of today’s self-sacrificing attack”, the group’s spokesman, Jeeyand Baloch, said in a statement published in English on Telegram.
The group released a picture of the woman they said was the bomber, naming her as “Shari Baloch alias Bramsh”. She is dressed in military fatigues and a cap, smiling broadly and raising two fingers.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022