(PAKISTAN) JUST IN: At least 13 people, including nine Chinese nationals and two PAK soldiers, have been killed after a blast sent a bus plunging into a ravine in a remote region of north on Wednesday #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – July.15: Inspector General Moazzam Jah Ansari, the top police official of Khyber-Paktunkhwa, the province where the incident occurred, said two soldiers and two locals were also among the dead and several people were injured.

#AceDailyNews says that Pakistan bus blast has killed at least-13, including 9 Chinese CPEC workers – China demands further details but it is not yet clear whether the explosion was a targeted attack or an accident, as conflicting reports emerged.

Locals gather around a bus that rolled down a ravine after an explosion in a remote province of Pakistan.
Local residents and rescue workers gather at the site of the bus accident, in the Kohistan district of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.(AP Photo)

Key points:

  • Pakistani authorities present conflicting reports about whether the incident was an attack or an accident
  • The Chinese government is calling it an “attack” and demands punishment for the assailants
  • The Chinese nationals were traveling to Dasu dam, a part of the CPEC project that is controversial among locals

“The bus plunged into a deep ravine after the blast and caused heavy losses. The rescue operation is launched and the entire government machinery has been mobilised to rescue the injured by air ambulance,” a senior government official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Mr Ansari told Reuters that police were investigating.

“Looks like sabotage,” Mr Ansari said as he left on a helicopter for the site.

At least three other officials had confirmed to Reuters that a blast hit the bus.

Meanwhile, Asim Abbasi, an assistant commissioner in Kohistan, told AP that authorities believe the incident was an accident but were investigating whether there was some type of explosion in the bus.

He said a gas cylinder may have exploded and it was possible that explosive material was in the vehicle; explosives are often used by engineers in construction projects.

A Chinese national sits wounded and bandaged, smoking a cigarette, after a blast on a bus in a remote Pakistani province.
An injured Chinese national sits on a bench after receiving initial treatment at a hospital in Kohistan district, July 14, 2021.(AP Photo)

A senior administrative officer of the Hazara region told Reuters the bus was carrying more than 30 Chinese engineers to the site of the Dasu dam in Upper Kohistan.

The Dasu hydroelectric project is part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a $65 billion investment plan under Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative that is aimed at connecting western China to the Gwadar sea port in southern Pakistan.

Chinese engineers and Pakistani construction workers have been working on the Dasu hydroelectric project and several others for several years in the region where the blast took place.

China demands punishment

The Chinese Embassy in a statement called the incident an “attack.”

“Recently, our workers at a business on a certain project in Pakistan were attacked and have suffered deaths and injuries,” the statement said.

“We have notified Chinese citizens in Pakistan to avoid venturing outside unless required by work or business and pay special care to their safety.”

In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said China was “shocked by and condemns the bomb attack in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.”

“We mourn over the Chinese and Pakistani personnel killed in the attack and express sympathies to bereaved families and the wounded,” Mr Zhao said at a daily news briefing.

Locals help an injured Chinese national to hospital after the bus explosion in a remote Pakistani province.
A Chinese national is helped by locals for treatment at a hospital in Kohistan district after the bus explosion, July 14, 2021.(AP Photo)

“We have demanded the Pakistani side get to the bottom of the incident, arrest and strictly punish the assailants as soon as possible, and earnestly protect the safety of Chinese personnel, institutions and projects in Pakistan,” he continued.

Chinese nationals targeted in the past

In April, the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for a deadly suicide blast at a luxury hotel hosting the Chinese ambassador, who escaped unhurt, in southwest Balochistan.

The group has recently claimed a string of attacks not only in Pakistan’s restive tribal areas along the Afghanistan border but also in the country’s cities, including the capital Islamabad.

Beijing has poured billions of dollars into Pakistan in recent years to boost the country’s infrastructure.

But Chinese-funded projects have sparked resentment, particularly among separatist groups, who say locals see little benefit, with most jobs going to outsiders.

In 2019, gunmen stormed a luxury hotel in Balochistan overlooking a flagship Chinese-backed project – the deep-water seaport in Gwadar that gives China strategic access to the Arabian Sea – killing at least eight people.

And last June, Baloch insurgents targeted the Pakistan Stock Exchange in the commercial capital of Karachi, which is partly owned by Chinese companies.

Reuters/AP/AFP

#AceNewsDesk report ……….Published: July.15: 2021:

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