Pakistan says nine Chinese workers killed by Islamist attack

Pakistan claims India, Afghan intelligence-backed Islamists responsible for nine Chinese workers' deaths
3 min read
A bus attack which took place last month, killing nine Chinese workers, was described as a suicide bombing carried out by Islamist militants backed by Indian and Afghan intelligence.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi made the claim on Thursday [Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency/Getty]

A bus attack last month that killed nine Chinese workers was a suicide bombing carried out by Islamist militants backed by Indian and Afghan intelligence agencies, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Thursday.

The minister said an investigation showed there was a "nexus of Indian RAW and Afghan NDS" in the attack, referring to India's and Afghanistan's intelligence agencies.

The blast hit a bus carrying the Chinese workers on their way to a dam construction site in northern Pakistan.

Qureshi, addressing a news conference in Islamabad together with a top investigator, said Pakistan had data evidence to back the allegation that the intelligence agencies from the two neighbours were involved.

Officials from the Indian and Afghan foreign ministries could not immediately be reached for comment.

Qureshi said that Pakistani Taliban militants - known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an umbrella movement of militant groups linked to Al-Qaeda and Islamic State - carried out the attack on 14 July with the backing of the two intelligence agencies.

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"As per our investigation the Afghan soil was used for this incident... about its planning and its execution we're seeing a clear nexus between NDS and RAW," Qureshi said.

High explosive

"Around 100/120 kilograms of high explosive were used in the car bombing," said the investigator, Javed Iqbal, adding that forensic examination of the suicide bomber's remains showed he was not a Pakistani national.

Video footage, cell phone data analysis, investigation of local handlers and facilitators and forensic examination of the car used in the bombing all revealed that the TTP in Afghanistan had planned this attack, he said.

"Senior officers of the RAW and NDS were directing them in Afghanistan," Iqbal added.

Pakistan and India are long-time arch-rivals and frequently trade accusations - which both sides deny - that the other country is behind attacks.

Pakistan originally blamed a mechanical failure for the blast but later said traces of explosives were detected and that it could not rule out an attack.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang urged his Pakistani counterpart last month to hold accountable the culprits in what he called a terrorist attack.

Chinese investigators have been involved in the probe, Qureshi said, adding some elements were out to hurt the two countries' interests.

Beijing is investing over $65 billion in infrastructure projects in Pakistan as part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), under its wider Belt and Road initiative.