AN INVESTIGATOR combs through the charred shell of the van, which was targeted by a female suicide bomber at the gates of Karachi University’s Confucius Institute on Tuesday afternoon. At least three Chinese nationals and their local driver were killed and four wounded in the attack, claimed by the outlawed BLA.—Reuters
AN INVESTIGATOR combs through the charred shell of the van, which was targeted by a female suicide bomber at the gates of Karachi University’s Confucius Institute on Tuesday afternoon. At least three Chinese nationals and their local driver were killed and four wounded in the attack, claimed by the outlawed BLA.—Reuters

• Outlawed BLA claims responsibility, says female suicide bomber carried out attack
• Local driver also killed; at least four, including member of Rangers security detail, injured
• PM, CM promise attackers will be brought to justice

KARACHI: In a brazen attack on campus, a female suicide bomber targeted a vehicle carrying faculty members of Karachi University’s Confucius Institute, killing three Chinese nationals and their local driver on Tuesday afternoon.

The attack, later claimed by the Baloch Liberation Army, took place near the varsity’s commerce department around 2pm.

The target was a 16-seater van, accompanied by Rangers security detail, and CCTV footage showed that the bomber — clad in a burqa — blew herself up just as the vehicle turned into the gate of the Confucius Institute.

Although the tactic has been used by other militant outfits in the past, BLA claimed that this was the first time they had employed a female suicide bomber to attack a target.

Initially, the blast was thought to be a cylinder explosion, but police later confirmed it to be a suicide attack targeting three Chinese nationals.

At least four people were injured in the attack, including a private security guard and the Rangers official who was escorting the van.

Karachi police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon was among the few first officers to arrive at the scene, and confirmed that three of the four deceased were Chinese nationals, who were identified as Huang Guiping, Ding Mupeng and Chen Sai. The deceased driver was identified as Muhammad Khalid.

“We have identified the bomber,” he told Dawn. “She was from Turbat and an MPhil student at Karachi University. However, he said police were “still in a phase of connecting the dots” and it would be too early to share any details of the investigation process.

Founded in 2013, the Confucius Institute was jointly established by University of Karachi and Sichuan Normal University in China. A non-profit education institution, the CIUK offers Chinese language classes and promotes cultural exchange between China and Pakistan.

Within an hour of the incident, the Majeed Brigade of the banned BLA took to social media, claiming responsibility for the attack — but did not give any reason for the fresh assault.

The group shared a photo of the female suicide bomber, referred to as Shari Baloch alias Bramish.

This was the second bomb attack inside Karachi University since 2010, when students of the Imamia Students Organisation were targeted, leaving five injured.

This attack is the second such major assault by the Majeed Brigade of the banned BLA, following the June 2020 attack on the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX). Earlier, in November 2018, the Chinese Consulate in Karachi’s Clifton area also came under attack.

Raja Umer Khattab of the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD), citing the bomb disposal squad’s initial findings, said that around four kilograms of explosives and ball-bearings were used in the attack, which tore through the van and left it in flames within minutes. The powerful explosion shattered the windows of nearby buildings and vehicles.

Ruling out a security lapse, Khattab said, “There was enough security and Rangers personnel escorting the van. This was why they [attackers] planned a suicide attack, since they found no way to plant an improvised explosive device.”

He posited that in a university, one could not suspect or check the thousands of students coming in and out every day.

Condolences and condemnation

Condemnation of the brazen attack on Chinese nationals inside Karachi University came swiftly from all sides.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, after receiving word of the attack, called on top Chinese diplomats to convey their profound sorrow and offer condolences over the unfortunate loss of lives in the Karachi University attack.

The chief minister briefed Consul General Li Bijian on the incident and assured him that the attack would be properly investigated and the culprits brought to book.

The PM, meanwhile, visited the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad to condole with charge d affaires Pang Chunxue.

Provincial ministers Sharjeel Inam Memon, Syed Nasir Hussain Shah and Mukesh Kumar Chawla also reached the site of the suicide bombing, where Mr Memon told reporters law enforcement agencies would not spare the terrorists involved in the attack.

“The UN is deeply saddened by the resulting loss of life. Attacks that deliberately target education, teachers, and places of learning are particularly condemnable,” said a statement issued at the UN headquarters in New York.

Earlier, Pakistan’s UN ambassador Munir Akram conveyed Islamabad’s “deep anguish and sorrow” to his Chinese counterpart over the death of three Chinese nationals in Karachi.

President Arif Alvi also expressed grief over the loss of lives in the incident and sympathised with the bereaved families of Chinese nationals.

PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari hoped “Sindh Police would ferret out the terrorists and they will soon be in the clutches of law.”

Published in Dawn, April 27th, 2022

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