Attack aims to disrupt Pakistani ties to China
Armed separatists stormed the Chinese Consulate in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi on Friday, triggering an intense hour-long shootout during which two Pakistani civilians, two police officers and all three assailants were killed, including one who was wearing a suicide vest, Pakistani officials said.
The brazen assault, claimed by a militant group from the southwestern province of Baluchistan, reflected the separatists’ attempt to strike at the heart of Pakistan’s close ties with major ally China, which has invested heavily into road and transportation projects in the country, including in Baluchistan.
The Baluch Liberation Army said it was fighting “Chinese occupation” and released photos of the three attackers.
In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China would not waver in its latest big project in Pakistan – the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor – and expressed confidence that Pakistan could ensure safety. Still, China asked Pakistan to beef up security at the mission.
Authorities said the dead civilians were a father and a son who were picking up their visas for China. The consulate’s diplomats and staff were unhurt and were evacuated to a safe place, senior police official Ameer Ahmad Sheikh said. A spokeswoman at the Jinnah Hospital said a consulate guard was wounded and was being treated there.
The attack began shortly after 9 a.m. when the consulate was open for business. The militants fired at consulate guards and hurled grenades, breaching the main gate and entering the building, said Mohammad Ashfaq, a local police chief.
Pakistani security forces quickly surrounded the area. Local TV stations broadcast images showing smoke rising from the building, which also serves as the residence of Chinese diplomats and other staff.
Multiple blasts were heard soon afterward but Sheikh could not say what they were. The shootout lasted for about an hour.
Security personnel on Friday move into the compound of the Chinese Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, where gunmen had stormed the consulate, triggering a deadly shootout.