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Pakistan says attack that killed 9 Chinese workers was a suicide bombing

A bus attack last month that killed nine Chinese workers was a suicide bombing carried out by Islamist militants backed by Indian and Afghan intelligence agencies, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Thursday (August 12).

The minister said an investigation showed there was a “nexus” of India’s RAW and Afghanistan’s NDS in the attack, referring to the countries’ intelligence agencies.

The blast hit a bus carrying the Chinese workers on their way to a dam construction site in northern Pakistan.

Qureshi, addressing a news conference in Islamabad together with a top investigator, said Pakistan had data evidence to back the allegation that the intelligence agencies from the two neighbours were involved.

Officials from the Indian and Afghan foreign ministries could not immediately be reached for comment.

Qureshi said that Pakistani Taliban militants – known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an umbrella movement of militant groups linked to al-Qaeda and Islamic State – carried out the attack on July 14 with the backing of the two intelligence agencies.

Senior investigator Javed Iqbal told reporters around 100-120 kilograms of high explosives were used in the car bombing, adding that forensic examination of the suicide bomber’s remains showed he was not a Pakistani national.

Video footage, cell phone data analysis, investigation of local handlers and facilitators and forensic examination of the car used in the bombing all revealed that the TTP in Afghanistan had planned this attack, he said.

But he also alleged the perpetrators got “all their directions, all their facilitation, from senior officials of RAW and NDS.”

Pakistan and India are longtime arch-rivals and frequently trade accusations – which both sides deny – that the other country is behind attacks.

Pakistan originally blamed a mechanical failure for the blast but later said traces of explosives were detected and that it could not rule out an attack.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang urged his Pakistani counterpart last month to hold accountable the culprits in what he called a terrorist attack.

Chinese investigators have been involved in the probe, Qureshi said, adding some elements were out to hurt the two countries’ interests.

Beijing is investing over $65 billion in infrastructure projects in Pakistan as part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), under its wider Belt and Road initiative.

(Production: Salah Uddin, Sheree Sardar)

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