China said shocked at bus explosion in Pakistan that killed 12 people, including nine Chinese citizens, and called on the South Asian country to protect projects valued at tens of billions of dollars .
Chinese foreigner Wang Yi has asked his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi to quickly investigate the cause of the explosion on Wednesday in a bus carrying workers in the northern Kohistan region, according to a statement from China. Qureshi said an initial investigation indicated the explosion was an accident and not a terrorist attack, and pledged to share any results with China.
“China is shocked by the severe loss of Chinese personnel in Pakistan today,” Wang said in the statement. “If it is a terrorist attack, the perpetrators must be arrested immediately and severely punished.”
“Lessons should be learned from this incident and security measures for Sino-Pakistani cooperation projects should be further strengthened to ensure the smooth functioning and security of all projects,” the statement said.
Concerns are growing about an advance by the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan, which threatens to disturb peace in the region. Particularly at risk are the $ 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC, projects, a crucial part of President Xi Jinping’s broader Belt and Road initiative.
The bus was carrying 32 people to a dam and hydroelectric project in Dasu, near the border with China, Fazal-e-Rabi, an assistant to Kohistan deputy commissioner, said by phone. Two security officials were among the dead, he said, without giving details of the explosion.
The bus plunged into a ravine after a “mechanical failure resulting in a gas leak that caused an explosion,” Pakistan’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday. “Other investigations are underway. Pakistan attaches great importance to the safety and security of the Chinese. national, projects and institutions in Pakistan. “
A Communist Party-backed Global Times editorial said on Wednesday that the explosion was “clearly an act of terrorism which is both carefully planned and supported by information.”
Pakistan has recently seen an upsurge in terrorist attacks, complicating Prime Minister Imran Khan’s efforts to weather an economic crisis with help from China. If terrorists are responsible, it would be the worst attack in mountainous northern Pakistan since a 2013 gunfight by gunmen that killed nine foreign climbers on Nanga Parbat, the country’s second highest peak.
The Pakistani military has reported 11 such incidents in the north and southwest region since June, killing 22 soldiers.
The South Asian nation is likely to be among the countries worst affected by the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan as the Taliban continue to capture key neighborhoods amid a retreat of Afghan soldiers. The nation suffered from terrorism for more than a decade after supporting the United States in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.
This story was posted from an agency feed with no text editing. Only the title has been changed.
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