Terrorist attacks in Pakistan’s financial hub Karachi and in a remote town of lower Orakzai tribal district have killed dozens and injured many more on Friday. At least 25 people died and another 50 were wounded in an explosion in the busy Kalaya Bazar area of Orakzai in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, according to Dr Shireen Mazari, the Minister for Human Rights. In the Karachi attack that took place at the Chinese Consulate, three terrorists and two policemen were killed.
PM “strongly” condemns Orakzai attack
According to security officials, the attack in Orakzai was a suicide bombing. It occurred near an imambargah, according to Dawn News. A search and rescue operation is underway in the area. The injured people have been send to the KDA teaching hospital in Kohat. Khalid Iqbal, an Orakzai district official, told the AFP news agency that the explosion was caused by “an improvised explosive device hidden in a carton of vegetables.”
Prime Minister Imran Khan “strongly condemned” the terrorist attacks in Orakzai and at the Chinese Consulate in Karachi. He described them as “a planned campaign to create unrest in the country by those who do not want Pakistan to prosper.” “Let there be no doubt in anyone’s mind that we will crush the terrorists, whatever it takes,” said the Prime Minister.
Strongly condemn the terrorist attacks against Chinese Consulate in Karachi & in Orakzai tribal area. My prayers go to the victims & their families. Salute the brave security/police personnel who gave their lives & denied success to terrorists in the mission ag Chinese Consulate.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) November 23, 2018
Other political leaders such as Bilawal Butto-Zardari also condemned the attacks. Butto said it was “absolutely heartbreaking to hear about the great loss of life in the attack in Lower Orakzai.” He also urged the government to implement the National Action Plan (NAP). Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister Mehmood Khan said the terrorists couldn’t see peace in the province.
It is absolutely heartbreaking to hear about the great loss of life in the attack in Lower Orakzai. Our country bleeds yet again. We must reaffirm our commitment to the NAP and implement it. My thoughts and prayers are with the martyrs and victims and all those effected.
— BilawalBhuttoZardari (@BBhuttoZardari) November 23, 2018
No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the terrorist attacks in Orakzai yet.
Karachi attack: All three BLA terrorists killed
Three terrorists belonging to the banned outfit Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) attacked the Chinese Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan on Friday. The attack began with a massive explosion that killed two policemen and seriously injured a guard. According to the security officials, the BLA terrorists came in a car laden with explosives, and at least one of them was wearing a suicide vest.
Immediately after the explosion at around 9:30 AM local time, the terrorists opened fire at the Chinese Consulate and tried to enter the building. But all three of them were killed in an exchange of gunfire with the security personnel before they could enter the building. The private guards at the Consulate had quickly barricaded the building to secure it from the attackers.
— norbert almeida (@norbalm) November 23, 2018
The situation was brought under control about two hours after the explosion. According to defense contractor Ikram Sehgal who provides armed guards to the Chinese Consulate, the guards had quickly closed the gates after the explosion. The civilians with consular business were moved inside the building and the Chinese staff were ushered to a safe location, Sehgal told Dawn News.
— Syed Talat Hussain (@TalatHussain12) November 23, 2018
The Chinese Consulate is located in the Clifton area of Karachi. Witnesses said they heard loud explosions and heavy gunfire. Many Twitter users shared videos showing smoke rising around the consulate buildings. Police officials told media that the Chinese Consul General was safe, and no Chinese citizen was harmed in the attack.
Gunfire heard in the vicinity of the Chinese Consulate in Karachi as an attack has been reported there on its guards pic.twitter.com/GnxHmW9xOL
— omar r quraishi (@omar_quraishi) November 23, 2018
Insurgent group Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) has claimed responsibility for the attack. The group was banned in 2009 under the anti-terrorist laws. Geand Baloch, a member of the BLA, told Reuters that three of its suicide attackers “stormed the Chinese embassy in Karachi.” The BLA terrorists carried out the attacks because China was “exploiting our resources.” “We have carried out this attack and our action is continuing,” said Geand Baloch.
The BLA is among many terrorist groups operating in Balochistan, the largest and poorest but the most resource-rich province in Pakistan. The group has been at the center of many terror attacks in the past. Karachi, where the Chinese Consulate is located, was rife with sectarian, ethnic, and political militancy for years. A massive crackdown by the security forces in the last few years has dramatically reduced violence in the city, though scattered incidents still take place.
‘Conspiracy’ against CPEC
China is one of Pakistan’s biggest allies. It has pledged to invest tens of billions of dollars in Pakistan under the China-Pakistan Economic Cooperation (CPEC) project, which passes through resource-rich Balochistan.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan described the Karachi attack as a “conspiracy” against the CPEC. Khan has ordered an investigation into the attack. The CPEC is part of China’s ambitious “One Belt One Road” initiative, through which Beijing aims to connect with 65 countries via a network of roads and sea routes based on the ancient trade routes.
The economic dividends from CPEC is a sensitive matter in some areas the corridor passes through, especially Balochistan. That’s why Baloch terrorists have attacked numerous CPEC construction sites and targeted Chinese workers in the last few years.