Four people – three Chinese nationals and a Pakistani man – were killed in an attack by a female suicide bomber outside the Chinese language centre inside the Karachi University on Tuesday.
Four others, including a Chinese national and Rangers personnel, were also injured in the blast that ripped through a van carrying university teachers, Karachi police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon told the media at the scene of the attack.
Raja Umar Khattab, the head of the Counter-terrorism Department, confirmed that it was a suicide attack carried out by a female student outside the Confucius Institute. The attacker was an MPhil student, who had said goodbyes to her friends on Twitter at 12:10pm, he added.
The attacker blew herself up near the gate of the Confucius Institute, when a white Hiace van, carrying the Chinese nationals, who were part of the institute’s faculty, came in her range. After the explosion, a huge fire engulfed the van, leaving no chance for the passengers to come out of it unscathed.
The Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) said that three to four kilogrammes of explosives were used in the attack. The powerful blast shattered windows and doors of various departments of the university, according to the officials.
“We were having a meeting at the dean’s office when we heard the deafening blast,” Naeema Saeed, a professor at the university’s criminology department, said. “It seemed that the roof was falling or the earth was torn. We all rushed outside. We looked around and saw smoke rising.”
Immediately after the blast, the Karachi University employees rushed to the spot and tried to put out the fire with the help of fire extinguishers. The police and Rangers also reached the scene and summoned the fire brigade. However, none of the van occupants could be rescued.
Memon, the additional inspector general of police, confirmed that a burqa-clad woman was lying in wait for the van to approach her so that she could trigger the blast. “We are investigating the incident, but it seems that the Chinese teachers were the primary target,” he added.
Later, footages of the attack on TV and social media showed the van was destroyed in the explosion, with one side of it peppered with small holes. The proscribed Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) claimed responsibility for the attack.
The deceased Chinese nationals were identified as Prof Huang Guiping, the director of the Confucius Institute, and two female teachers, Ding Mofang and Chen Sai. Khattab said that the teachers were returning after having lunch at the university’s guesthouse.
Seconds before the tragedy. #CCTV footage captures the alleged suicide bomber standing outside Karachi University. As the van approached the premises, the suspected bomber moved her bag towards the vehicle and detonated the bomb.— The Express Tribune (@etribune) April 26, 2022
More on: https://t.co/v3CWfSpB5y#etribune pic.twitter.com/TCz4kII8bG
Vice Chancellor Dr Khalid M Iraqi confirmed that the Chinese faculty members were among the deceased, along with a Pakistani driver. The university administration suspended all the classes scheduled for Wednesday (today).
AIG Memon said the police along with other law enforcement agencies were trying their best to provide maximum security at the university. “Our responsibility is to provide security and we are providing it,” he said, adding that if there were any shortcomings, they would be revisited.
After the explosion, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah visited the Chinese consulate and expressed deep sorrow and grief over the death of three Chinese nationals. He also briefed the Chinese consul general about the attack and assured the envoy of bringing the perpetrators to justice.
Condemnations pour in
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called the chief minister and sought details of the incident from him. Shehbaz assured that the federal government would extend assistance to the provincial government in preventing such attacks in the future.
“I am deeply grieved on the loss of precious lives including of our Chinese friends in the heinous attack in Karachi today,” Shehbaz tweeted earlier. “I strongly condemn this cowardly act of terrorism. The perpetrators will surely be brought to justice.”
Several ministers, including Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, besides politicians from the government’s allied parties and the opposition, also condemned the explosion in which the Chinese citizens were killed.
In a statement issued from Bilawal House Media Cell, Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari “strongly condemned” the terrorist attack. “I am sure Sindh Police will ferret out the terrorists and they will soon be in the clutches of law,” he added.
He stressed that foolproof measures should be taken to ensure security of the Chinese citizens in Pakistan. Former interior minister Sheikh Rashid said that terrorists had tried to harm the Sino-Pak friendship. He expressed solidarity with the Chinese envoy in Pakistan and the families of the victims.
The Chinese embassy in Islamabad said that all the three citizens killed in the attack were teachers at the institute, and that a fourth had been injured. It also warned its nationals to pay close attention to security and “not go out unless necessary”.
The embassy in a statement said: “At the same time, all levels in Pakistan are requested to take practical and effective measures to do everything possible to ensure the safety of Chinese citizens, institutions and projects in Pakistan and ensure that similar incidents do not occur again.”
Also, the Foreign Office extended condolence to the families of victims. “We strongly condemn the reprehensible terrorist attack in Karachi which claimed innocent lives, including those of Chinese nationals working at the Confucius Institute,” it said in a statement.
“The law enforcement agencies are investigating the incident to apprehend the culprits and bring them to justice. Local authorities are also providing all possible assistance to the injured,” the FO said.
“The cowardly incident is a direct attack on the Pakistan-China friendship and ongoing cooperation. Pakistan and China are close friends and iron brothers. Pakistan attaches great importance to safety and security of Chinese nationals, projects and institutions in Pakistan.”
(WITH INPUT FROM AFP)
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ