A suspected woman suicide bomber has been caught on a surveillance camera carrying out an attack that killed four people, including three Chinese nationals, in Karachi on Tuesday.
The banned Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), a militant group based in Balochistan province notorious for targetting Chinese nationals, claimed responsibility for the attack outside Karachi University’s Confucius Institute. The outfit said the blast was carried out by their first female suicide bomber and warned of more attacks.
Director of the institute Huang Guiping, teachers Ding Mupeng and Chen Sai, and their local Pakistani driver Khalid were killed when the minivan they were travelling in was blown into pieces on Tuesday afternoon at 1.50pm local time.
The CCTV footage shows a burqa-clad woman waiting outside the entrance of the Chinese language institute with a remote-like item in her hands. She detonated herself just as the white van approached the gate.
The woman, a science teacher from Balochistan and a mother of two, had reportedly enrolled for a second master's degree with the university just about five months ago.
“Baloch Liberation Army once again warns China to immediately halt its exploitation projects... Otherwise our future attacks will be even harsher,” the BLA said in a statement.
Local authorities had received intelligence reports regarding a marooning threat on Chinese nationals in the city, Karachi police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon said.
“The police had received reports regarding security threats to Chinese nationals and security was also provided to them. However, no intelligence report of suicide attack through a female bomber was received,” the top official told Geo News.
Authorities added that they have launched a joint investigation by police and military intelligence agencies.
Nasira Khatoon, the acting vice-chancellor of Karachi University, expressed “heartfelt condolences” to the families of the victims and announced the campus would remain closed on Wednesday. “We hope that the government will punish the elements involved ... and believe that every possible step will be taken to reach the elements behind the attack,” she said.
However, according to local media, the university has denied reports of the suspected bomber being their student.
Beijing on Tuesday expressed strong condemnation. “We strongly condemn the terrorist attack targeting Chinese teachers at the University of Karachi and express our condolences to the victims,” spokesperson for China Hua Chunying wrote on Twitter.
“Nothing will undermine China-Pakistan friendship,” the spokesperson added.
We strongly condemn the terrorist attack targeting Chinese teachers at University of Karachi and express our condolences to the victims. Nothing will undermine China-Pakistan friendship.
— Hua Chunying 华春莹 (@SpokespersonCHN) April 27, 2022
Strong diplomatic ties shared between the two Asian neighbours have often come under fire from several Islamist militants seeking a greater share of their province’s natural resources.
The deep-water port in Gwadar is a key link in China’s Belt and Road network of infrastructure and energy projects that stretches beyond the Middle East.
Pakistan’s newly-elected prime minister Shehbaz Sharif visited the Chinese embassy in Islamabad to offer condolences. The local authorities in Sindh and Karachi have launched a “full-scale investigation to hunt down the perpetrators”, officials said.
Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif visited the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad, and met with Chinese Charge d'Affaires Ms. Pang Chunxue to express his grief and condolences over the deaths of Chinese nationals in the attack in Karachi University. pic.twitter.com/rzahc31q0o
— Prime Minister's Office (@PakPMO) April 26, 2022
“The PM also wrote a special message of condolence to Chinese president Xi Jinping... The prime minister said the entire Pakistani nation was in shock and grief over the brutal attack on its ‘Iron Brothers’,” a statement from Mr Sharif’s office read.
The prime minister added that “any attack on iron ties between Pakistan and China was unbearable” and any such miscreant activity “won’t be allowed to affect the great bilateral relations between the two states”.
Tuesday’s explosion was the first major attack on Chinese nationals since the July 2021 bombing of a bus at Dasu, which killed nine people.