A bus carrying Chinese engineers and personnel of the Pakistani security forces was reportedly targeted in an ‘explosion’ near the Dasu hydropower plant in the Upper Kohistan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Thursday. At least 12 persons, including 9 Chinese engineers and two FC soldiers, were killed in the ‘attack.’
The initial reports of the incidents presented by the Pakistani authorities were contradictory – the officials were confused whether the incident was an attack or an accident. Babar Awan, an advisor to the Pakistani prime minister, termed the incident a “cowardly attack” in his address to the National Assembly, hinting that it was not an accident. He said that the Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed will clear things up later on.
A few hours later, the Pakistani Ministry of Interior denied the claims of an attack, saying that the bus carrying the engineers “plunged into a ravine after a mechanical failure resulting in leakage of gas that caused a blast.”
China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian condemned the ‘attack’, expressing “shock and condemnation over the bombing.” China asked the Pakistani government to thoroughly investigate the incident.
Hinting at an attack, the spokesperson asked the Pakistani government to “severely punish the perpetrators” and “earnestly protect the safety of Chinese nationals, organisations and projects.”
“The Chinese Embassy in Pakistan hereby reminds Chinese citizens, enterprises and projects in Pakistan to attach great importance to them, pay close attention to the local security situation, strengthen the safety of project personnel, take strict precautions, and do not go out unless necessary”, read a statement from the Chinese embassy in Pakistan.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi met with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Wednesday. According to reports, Yi termed the incident an attack and asked Qureshi to arrest the perpetrators as soon as possible.
Qureshi reportedly told him that initial investigation has shown that the incident was not a terrorist attack.
Yi reportedly told Qureshi that “the Chinese side is shocked by the serious Chinese casualties in Pakistan today (Wednesday), hoping that the Pakistani side could quickly find out its cause, conduct rescue and treatment work at all costs, deal with the aftermath in time, and prevent similar incidents from happening again.”
“Pakistan will spare no effort to rescue and treat the wounded, thoroughly investigate the truth of the incident, lose no time in sharing the progress of the investigation with China, and do its utmost to ensure the safety of Chinese personnel in Pakistan”, Qureshi was quoted saying. The Pakistani foreign minister stressed Pakistan’s relationship with China and said that “China’s loss is Pakistan’s loss.”