QUETTA, May 4: Police have arrested 13 suspects in connection with a car bomb attack that killed three Chinese engineers and wounded 11 other people in the coastal town of Gwadar on Monday, official sources said.

"Thirteen suspects have been arrested so far and they are being interrogated," Home Secretary Abdul Rauf Khan said here on Tuesday. Two of the suspects are Bengalis and one from Gilgit; the others are from Turbat and Tando Adam.

Governor Owais Ghani, Chief Minister Jam Yousuf, Chief Secretary Ashraf Nasar and police chief Shoaib Suddle visited Gwadar after the incident. Two teams comprising senior police officers also reached the coastal town on Tuesday from Quetta and Karachi and started investigations. They also inspected the car used in the attack.

"It was a remote control car bomb explosion that rocked the coastal town," DIG Makran Range Malik Yasrab Khan told Dawn by telephone from Gwadar. He said that no group or organization had so far claimed responsibility for the attack.

According to sources, the explosion occurred on the Harbour Road at around 8.25am when a van of Chinese Harbour Engineering Company carrying 14 people, including 11 Chinese engineers and other staff, was on its way to the port site from the staff residential complex.

A white car, parked at the roadside on the Harbour Road, exploded as soon as the Chinese company van came near to it. Splinters of the explosive device and the wreckage of the car hit the van with a bang, which resulted in the killing of three Chinese engineers on the spot and injuring 11 others.

The injured included nine Chinese, their Pakistani van driver and a police security guard. Local civil administration and police officials shifted the victims to the Civil Hospital where doctors confirmed death of three engineers.

"Three Chinese engineers died on the spot due to fatal injuries," hospital sources said, and added that the hospital received 11 injured, including nine Chinese. "The condition of five is critical," Dr Aziz of the hospital told Dawn over telephone.

Later all the injured were shifted to Karachi through a PIA flight where they were admitted to the Aga Khan Hospital. According to hospital sources, the injured were out of danger now.

The sources said the blast was so powerful that it shook the entire town, creating panic among citizens. The wreckage of the Alto car used in the blast was scattered over half-a-kilometre area along the coastal belt.

Driver of the van, Hasan, told investigators in his initial statement that a white Alto car exploded soon after the van reached near it. Big pieces of the car hit the middle and rear side of the staff van, he added.

DIG Makran Range Malik Yasrab Khan said that the Alto used in the attack was of 1995 model. Its registration number was AB-0487 and it was stolen from Karachi in 1995. He said the car had been completely destroyed and the only unbroken thing that the police found from the blast site was an empty gas cylinder, which showed that the vehicle was running on CNG.

He said that investigation was in initial stages and inquiry teams were examining all aspects of the incident. Soon they would be able to reach the people behind this terrorist act, the DIG added.

Meanwhile, a high-level meeting was held in Gwadar which was attended by Governor Owais Ghani, Chief Minister Jam Yousuf and other officials. The meeting reviewed the situation arising out of Monday's incident and took various decisions in connection with security arrangements.

The governor and the chief minister directed the officials to take all possible steps to ensure security of Chinese engineers and workers who were helping Pakistan in constructing a deep-sea port in Gwadar and improving the law and order situation.

WORK TO CONTINUE: The Chinese Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) has vowed to continue its work on the Gwadar deep seaport despite the killing of their staffers on Monday.

A delegation comprising Chinese company officials met Governor Owais Ghani and Chief Minister Jam Yousuf in Gwadar on Monday and discussed with them the car blast. They said that neither the Pakistan-China friendship nor the Gwadar port project could be affected as a result of such incidents.

They said that the Chinese company would complete the project in the given time. "We will continue work on the project will full force," they said.

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