ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Thursday revealed that a suicide bomber had attacked the bus carrying Chinese workers to the under-construction Dasu dam last month and that some of those involved had been arrested.
Mr Qureshi said that India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) were behind the attack.
“Afghanistan’s soil was used in concocting the plan,” he told a press conference, adding the planning and execution clearly indicated to a nexus between RAW and NDS.
He said the vehicle used in the attack was brought from Afghanistan and the suicide bomber, Khalid Sheikh, was trained in Afghanistan.
The minister disclosed that some of the culprits had been arrested, while others were at large in Afghanistan.
A mutual legal assistance request was being made to the Afghan government. Further investigation is in progress to find all those involved in the attack.
Mr Qureshi said that India-Afghanistan nexus had found it hard to digest the increasing cooperation between China and Pakistan and the growing Chinese investment in the country.
On July 14, 2021, a bus carrying Chinese workers in the Dasu area of Upper Kohistan district fell into a ravine after an explosion, killing 13 people, including nine Chinese nationals. The blast left 28 other people injured.
Mr Qureshi said Pakistan officials conducted thorough investigation into the incident and shared the findings with their Chinese counterparts at every stage.
He said the Swat chapter of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban in Pakistan (TTP) had executed the attack at the behest of hostile intelligence agencies.
He said the investigation had revealed that the attackers’ primary target was Diamer-Bhasha dam. The investigators reviewed footage of 36 CCTV cameras along the 1,400km route on which the bus travelled. “We found a thumb, finger, and body parts [...] which were later analysed,” said the foreign minister. He said investigators were confident that these body parts belonged to the suicide bomber.
Mr Qureshi said that officials had recovered mobile phones from the bus — which had security personnel and Chinese nationals onboard — and the data on them was also examined. “We came to an initial conclusion that this was a blind case and could not be solved easily, but our institutions have successfully solved it,” he said.
He said more than 1,000 workers of the Dasu hydel project were scrutinised and interviewed. Furthermore, the car used in the incident had been identified as to where it came from and how it was smuggled into Pakistan.
Speaking on the occasion, DIG of counter-terrorism department in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Javed Iqbal said the convoy left its base camp for Dasu at 7am. The incident occurred at the main Karakoram Highway, following which the CTD spearheaded the investigation along with other intelligence agencies.
“We had found parts of the car used in the incident; fingers and thumb of the alleged suicide bomber [Khalid aka Sheikh] were also recovered from the site and we did a forensic and chemical analysis of them.”
The DNA and other samples of the person were cross-checked with the National Database and Registration Authority’s (Nadra) database, but the officials could not get a lead from there, the DIG said, adding that the officials then analysed more than 500GB of CCTV cameras and this exercise helped the officials identifying a car.
The mobile phones the investigators found belonged to the people who were on board the bus and they could not get a lead from there. Later, they scrutinised and interviewed the employees working on the project.
“We had exhausted all the angles that are used to solve a case,” he said.
The investigators gathered information from across the country in the hunt for the vehicle and finally, found a sticker of “Chaman 2 Motors” on the number plate of the car, he said.
He said the showroom’s owner informed the officials that he had procured the car seven or six months back — in November 2020. “When we backtracked the car, it emerged that it came from Afghanistan.”
The investigators then found a mobile phone through which they located the first suspect, Hussain. Through Hussain, they reached the second suspect, Ayaz, and arrested him from Karachi.
Two sons of Hussain were included in the investigation who had confirmed that their father had indeed procured the car back in November.
Interrogation of Hussain and Ayaz revealed that another suspect, Tariq, was involved. Tariq belongs to the TTP and resides in Afghanistan. He had gone back to the country after the incident.
The DIG said that RAW and NDS had supported the people involved in the incident. Everyone in Pakistan who had planned the attack had been arrested.
Fourteen people are involved in the incident and Tariq is running this group from Afghanistan with the help of NDS and RAW. Another suspect, Muavia, had planned the attack along with Tariq.
Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2021