12 people including mastermind arrested in connection with terror attack that killed 5 Chinese citizens in Pak: Officials

ISLAMABAD, Apr 1 : At least 12 people, including the mastermind, have been arrested in connection with last week’s suicide bombing that killed five Chinese nationals and their Pakistani driver in the restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, officials said on Monday.

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD), which launched a probe into the attack, blamed the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militant group for the assault, The Express Tribune newspaper reported.

No group had claimed responsibility for the terror attack that took place when the Chinese engineers were en route from Islamabad to their camp in Dasu, the headquarters of the Upper Kohistan district of the province, when a suicide bomber rammed his explosive-rigged car into their vehicle in Bisham area of Shangla district.

A report submitted by the CTD on Monday said over a dozen militants and facilitators of the attack were arrested in multiple raids carried out by authorities.

The CTD sources said authorities arrested Hazrat Bilal, the mastermind of the attack who brought the suicide bomber from Afghanistan.

Bilal is also wanted in prior attacks on the Chinese.

The report said the explosives-laden vehicle was brought through the Chaman border to Dara Zinda town in Dera Ismail Khan district for Pakistani Rs 0.25 million.

According to CTD sources, the non-custom paid vehicle was parked at a petrol station for a fee of Pakistani Rs 500 per day.

Two facilitators were also arrested from Balochistan, the report said.

The report said some of those arrested had links with TTP militants in Pakistan and that raids were still ongoing across the country.

A team of Chinese experts last week landed in Pakistan as the two sides began a joint probe into the attack that visibly left China upset.

China asked cash-strapped Pakistan to ensure the security of Chinese nationals working on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects in different regions of the country.

This is the second suicide bomb attack on Chinese personnel working at the Dasu power project as a similar incident in 2021 claimed the lives of nine Chinese personnel and four Pakistanis working on the site.

Prime Minister Shehbaz instructed a thorough joint investigation into the attack.

Shehbaz, accompanied by the Chinese ambassador in Pakistan, also visited the Dasu hydroelectric power station site to show support for the Chinese personnel working on the project.

Earlier in the day, the bodies of the five Chinese personnel were flown to Wuhan on a special Pakistani military plane following a wreath-laying ceremony in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.

Floral wreaths were laid at the Nur Khan Airbase on behalf of the president, the prime minister, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff committee, the chief of the Pakistan Army staff and the chief of the Pakistan Air staff.

A thirty seconds silence was observed in honour of the deceased.

The government in a statement once again strongly condemned the terrorist incident and expressed its firm resolve to bring the terrorists and facilitators to justice.

Chaudhry Salik Hussain, the Federal Minister for Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, travelled aboard the aircraft to Wuhan to transport the mortal remains of the killed.

Thousands of Chinese personnel are working in Pakistan on several projects under the aegis of the USD 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). (PTI)