Shehbaz Sharif will devise plan for security of Chinese and other foreigners
In the wake of the suicide attack on Chinese nationals in Karachi, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has said that he will hold a meeting to devise plan for security of people from China and other foreigners working in Pakistan.
An explosion triggered by a burqa-clad Baloch woman suicide bomber ripped through a shuttle passenger van of the Confucius Institute at the prestigious University of Karachi on Tuesday, leaving three Chinese teachers dead and one injured and causing several Pakistani casualties, in the latest targeted attack against Chinese citizens in Pakistan's financial capital. During a conversation with senior journalists during an Iftar dinner at Prime Minister House on Tuesday, Sharif expressed his concerns over the suicide attack on the Chinese nationals in Karachi, the Dawn News reported on Wednesday.
Sharif said soon after his visit to Saudi Arabia, he would preside over a meeting to devise a strategy to provide security to the Chinese as well as other foreign nationals in the country. The prime minister is leaving for Saudi Arabia on his maiden official overseas trip to Saudi Arabia on Thursday where he is scheduled to hold talks with the Saudi leadership. On the sidelines of the visit, Shehbaz would also visit Mecca to perform Umrah pilgrimage.
Sharif said he has directed interior minister Rana Sanaullah to visit Karachi on Wednesday. The banned Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) linked Majeed Brigade has claimed responsibility for Tuesday's attack that took place near China-built Confucius Institute -- a non-profit institute teaching Chinese language to local pupils -- in Karachi University.
CCTV footage of the attack showed a burqa-clad woman standing outside the entrance of the Confucius Institute. The woman detonated herself just as the van neared the institute's entrance. A spokesperson for the university said three of the people killed were Chinese, while one was a Pakistani. They were identified as Confucius Institute Director Huang Guiping, Ding Mupeng, Chen Sa and Khalid, the Pakistani driver. The spokesperson added that two others -- Chinese national Wang Yuqing and a Pakistani man Hamid -- were injured in the blast.
The bomber must have been carrying five to 10 kg of explosives, a Bomb Disposal Squad official, investigating on the spot, said. There were sad and depressing scenes at the Confucius Institute, named after the Chinese philosopher who taught virtue, kindness and peace.
The three Chinese teachers killed were quite popular among students and staffers of the university. Chen Sai was the youngest of the three teachers and very popular and the two others -- Huang Guiping and Ding Mupeng -- were older but not strict and used to get along with everyone well, said Nasreen Ahmed, a student at the institute.
We were all shaken by what happened yesterday, she said. The university was closed on Wednesday for a security briefing. Raja Umar Khatab, head of the Sindh Police Anti-Terrorism Squad, said the bombing was due to a security failure at the university. However, he said, no one can be blamed for the security lapse as the university has a sprawling campus and is open from many sides.
These separatist groups in Balochistan have become very active and the BLA in particular has been trying to target Chinese nationals, he said, noting that all previous terror attempts on Chinese nationals, including the failed storming of the Chinese Consulate in Karachi in 2018, were carried out by BLA militants.
The Karachi University campus security adviser Prof Mohammad Zubair said the university had received an alert from agencies over the Chinese faculty members' security and it was discussed in a meeting held at the Rangers headquarters. I had written a letter to them (Chinese faculty members), asking them to seek protection from police or Rangers when they intend to move outside the campus, Zubair said.
The impact of the blast was so strong that it shattered all the windows of the Department of Commerce that also houses the Confucius Institute on its second floor and students inside the building received cuts and bruises from shattered glasses and falling articles.
According to a Dawn report, the charred van stood where it was halted in its tracks at the entrance of the institute due to the blast. Its front grille mostly disintegrated with a portion of it lying behind the vehicle. The driver's door was ajar and broken. Only the metal frames of the seats were left, the foam, the covers all gone.
Pieces of window glass lay scattered all around though the front and back windscreens also lay on the road, one at the back of the van and another near the smouldering motorcycle of the Rangers officer, who was riding behind the van for security purposes, the report said.
The windscreen glass was not shattered, but burnt black and stuck to the road like a shiny layer of coal tar. The nearby K-Electric substation doors also flew open in the blast.
Meanwhile, China on Wednesday asked Pakistan to scale-up security for its nationals working in the country and demanded a thorough investigation and punishment to the perpetrators behind the suicide attack.