Pakistan’s foreign minister has accused India and Afghanistan of backing a suicide bombing which killed nine Chinese workers on July 14, and called for the remaining perpetrators to be handed over to Islamabad for trial.
The attack, which took place in Pakistan’s northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, left 13 people dead and dozens injured after a bus convoy carrying Chinese engineers to a construction site was rammed by a car carrying more than 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of explosives, according to Pakistan authorities. Two Pakistan soldiers were also killed in the attack.
Speaking at a press briefing Thursday, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi alleged the attack had been carried out by “the Pakistani Taliban out of Afghanistan,” with the approval of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security and India’s Research and Analysis Wing.
Qureshi said Pakistan would be facilitating and assisting China to “punish those behind this attack,” and putting in a request to the Afghan government to “hand over the three planners” who he alleged were still operating out of the country.
An Indian official told Reuters that the allegations were baseless.
A spokeswoman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday that China appreciated Pakistan’s efforts to find those behind the attack, adding that the investigation was still ongoing. The Chinese government had previously said it would send experts to Pakistan to assist in the investigation.
“China and Pakistan will follow the important consensus reached by the leaders on both sides, ascertain all the facts and truth, and hold the culprits accountable and bring them to justice,” said spokeswoman Hua Chunying.
China has extensive economic interests in neighboring Pakistan, one of Beijing’s strongest diplomatic allies in the region, including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road global infrastructure plan. Many Chinese nationals have traveled to Pakistan to work on the roads, railways and pipelines that are part of the multibillion dollar project.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua said Thursday both countries would keep strengthening security cooperation mechanisms to ensure the safety of Chinese projects, people and institutions in Pakistan.
Hua also said that China firmly opposes any organization using terrorism to seek geopolitical gains and called on countries in the region to collaborate in eradicating all terrorist organizations so as to uphold common security and development interests of all countries.
The Chinese government met with senior leaders of the Afghanistan Taliban on July 28 as part of an ongoing effort by Beijing to help maintain stability in the region amid rapid gains by the Islamist group following a withdrawal of US troops from the country.
In recent years, Islamist militants have attacked Chinese nationals and their interests in the Pakistani province of Balochistan, which borders Afghanistan.
CNN’s Philip Wang in Atlanta and Nectar Gan in Hong Kong contributed to this report.