ISLAMABAD: At least 13 people, including nine Chinese nationals and two Frontier Corps soldiers, were killed and dozens were injured after a bus carrying Chinese engineers in the Upper Kohistan area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa “encountered a blast” on Wednesday.
Local sources termed it an attack by militants; however, no one has claimed the responsibility for the blast so far. A similar statement was made by Prime Minister’s aide Babar Awan, on the floor of the National Assembly. He called it a “cowardly attack”.
His remarks were in contrast to the Foreign Office statement that said a “bus carrying Chinese workers…plunged into a ravine after a mechanical failure resulting in leakage of gas that caused a blast”.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Information Minister Kamran Bangash confirmed the death of eight people which included four Chinese engineers, terming it as an “incident”. The people who are in critical condition are being flown to hospitals via helicopters, he said, adding that the security in the area has been beefed up.
Hours later, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan confirmed the attack on the bus. Speaking on the floor of the National Assembly, he termed it a “cowardly attack” and said that it would “not divert attention from the special initiatives between Pakistan and its neighbours”.
However, Foreign Office in a statement claimed that “a bus carrying Chinese workers…plunged into a ravine after a mechanical failure resulting in leakage of gas that caused a blast.
Meanwhile, the Chinese embassy has asked its citizens to restrict their movements in light of the security situation in the country.
STATEMENT BY CHINESE EMBASSY:
“At around 7am local time on July 14, the attendance shuttle bus for the Dasu Hydropower Station project… encountered an explosion on its way to the construction site. So far, 9 Chinese personnel and 3 Pakistani personnel have been killed,” the statement issued by the embassy in the afternoon read.
Pakistan is investigating the cause, it added.
“After the incident, the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan launched the emergency plan as soon as possible, contacted the Pakistani military, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of the Interior and other relevant departments, requesting Pakistan to carry out rescue and treatment at all costs, and strengthen the support of Chinese institutions and projects in Pakistan. The security of personnel, and as soon as possible to find out the truth of the incident. The Pakistani military has organised rescue at the first time and dispatched helicopters to transport the wounded.
“The Chinese Embassy in Pakistan strongly condemned the incident, expressed deep condolences to the victims, and sincere condolences to the injured, and will do its best with Pakistan to deal with the incident.
“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.”