QUETTA - At least six people, including three Chinese nationals, were wounded in a suicide attack on a bus in Dalbandin on Saturday, officials said.

An attacker struck the vehicle as it transported Chinese engineers working on a mining project in the area.

Local administration and police officials told AFP that three Chinese nationals, two paramilitary soldiers from their security detail, and the bus driver were wounded in the attack.

“The attacker, waiting in a small truck along the route... (detonated) the vehicle when the bus carrying Chinese engineers came close to him,” said Dostain Dashti, a senior police officer in the region, around 340 km  southwest of the provincial capital Quetta.

Saifullah Khaitran, Deputy Commissioner of Chaghi, confirmed the attack, adding that all the injured were in stable condition as their injuries were not life-threatening.

“A suicide bomber used an explosives laden pick-up for the attack. He exploded the (vehicle) when the coach reached the site,” said Khaitran.

The blast shattered the glass windows in the bus and damaged the front of the vehicle, according to images from the scene seen by Reuters.

Area police said that paramilitary forces were leading a search operation to look for suspected facilitators of the attack.

The bomber died in the attack and the Chinese workers suffered minor wounds, the official said.

The engineers were working on the Saindak project, Khaitran said, a joint venture between Pakistan and China to extract gold, copper and silver from an area close to the Iranian border.

Muhammad Ibrahim, the driver of the targeted bus, told AFP from his hospital bed that he had averted major loss by slamming the brakes before the bus hit the attacker’s vehicle.

“The whole bus would have burnt if I had not applied the brakes,” he said.

Ethnic Baloch insurgents later claimed responsibility for the attack. “We targeted this bus which was carrying Chinese engineers,” Jihand Baloch, a spokesperson for Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), told AFP by phone. “We attacked them because they are extracting gold from our region, we won’t allow it.”

Meanwhile, Pakistan Saturday strongly condemned terrorist attack on the Chinese engineers and their accompanying FC personnel in Dalbandin.

Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dr Mohammad Faisal on his official twitter account said that all of them were stable and being treated. “Pakistan remains unflinchingly undeterred in the face of such dastardly terrorist acts,” he further tweeted.

 

Pakistan has leased out the mining project, known as the Saindak Copper-Gold Mine, to Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC). The mines are located in the Chaghi district, which borders Afghanistan and Iran.

Bordering Iran and Afghanistan, Balochistan is the largest of Pakistan’s four provinces, and many of its residents have long complained that it does not receive a fair share of its mineral wealth.

Pakistan regularly accuses India of funding and arming Baloch separatists, and of targeting development projects in the province.

Beijing has ramped up investment in its South Asian neighbour’s infrastructure as part of an ambitious plan to link its far-western Xinjiang region to the Arabian Sea port of Gwadar in Balochistan.

 

 

Three Chinese wounded in Dalbandin suicide hit