At­tack aims to dis­rupt Pak­istani ties to China

Merced Sun-Star (Saturday) - - News - BY ADIL JAWAD

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.

SHAKIL ADIL AP

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.

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