Terrorists opposed to Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road megaproject claim responsibility for killing 4 at Chinese Consulate in Pakistan

Chinese President Xi Jinping Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images
  • Three assailants threw grenades and engaged in an hourlong shootout with the police at China’s consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, on Friday morning.
  • A Pakistani father and his son, two police officers, and the attackers were killed.
  • The Balochistan Liberation Army, a Pakistani insurgent group opposed to China’s economic presence in Pakistan, claimed responsibility for the attack.
  • The militant group, which seeks independence for the resource-rich Balochistan province, has accused the Pakistani government of favouring Chinese infrastructure projects in the region.
  • Pakistan is one of China’s largest allies in its Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to link 70 countries through trade.

Four people, including two police officers, were killed when armed militants hurled grenades and engaged in a shootout at China’s consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, on Friday morning.

Three assailants first opened fire at consulate guards and threw grenades before breaching the main gates and successfully entering the building, the Associated Press reported, citing the Pakistani police.

Law-enforcement officers killed all three attackers in a shootout that lasted for about an hour.

Two civilians, a Pakistani father and his son, were killed in the shootout. The two had visited the consulate to collect their visas to China, the AP said.

None of those who were killed have been named.

No Chinese diplomats or consular staff members were harmed during the attack, the police said.

The Balochistan Liberation Army, a Pakistani insurgent group, claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred about 9:30 a.m. local time. The police have not yet identified the assailants.

A Twitter account associated with the group said three of its members had “embraced martyrdom,” according to The New York Times.

Balochistan is at the center of China’s plan to link 70 countries through investment and infrastructure projects. The plan, known as the Belt and Road Initiative, is considered President Xi Jinping’s pet project, and China is estimated to have invested $US1 trillion to $US8 trillion in those projects since 2013.

Read more: Inside ‘Belt and Road,’ China’s megaproject that is linking 70 countries across Asia, Europe, and Africa

Separatists from the province have for decades campaigned against the Pakistani government and what they see as its unfair exploitation of its resources, including natural gas and minerals, Reuters reported. They also want to turn the province into an independent state.

The BLA has also accused Islamabad of taking over land belonging to indigenous people and prioritising Chinese projects.

Jiand Baloch, a spokesman for the BLA, told Reuters after Friday’s attack: “China is exploiting our resources.”

The port city of Karachi, where the attack took place, is Pakistan’s largest city and a financial hub. It has experienced waves of political and social unrest for years.

Pakistan is one of China’s biggest partners in the Belt and Road project, with the two countries in 2013 forming the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a massive $US62 billion partnership consisting of transport and energy projects.

Social-media users shared videos and photos of smoke, apparently from Friday’s attack, billowing into the air from the consulate.

Ameer Ahmad Sheikh, a senior Pakistani police officer, also described hearing multiple blasts but said it wasn’t clear what they came from.

The police also said they found an explosive vest and were working to identify the assailants from their fingerprints, the Associated Press reported.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan ordered an inquiry into the attack, saying in a statement: “Such incidents will never be able to undermine Pak-China relationship.”