An explosion in Pakistan drove a bus flying down a slope, killing at least 13 people, including nine Chinese nationals.
China claims the blast was planned, while officials of Pakistan blame a mechanical malfunction. The vehicle was transporting more than 30 people to a distant hydropower project in upper Kohistan. Two troops were killed, while several more were injured. The injured were evacuated to the hospital by rescuers.
The Dasu hydropower project is part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a $65 billion (£47 billion) investment plan connecting the two nations that comprises a network of roads, railways, and pipelines. The vehicle had picked up workers and Chinese engineers from a camp in Barseen and was near the Dasu facility in Pakistan’s north when it skidded off the road, according to Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper.
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Zhao Lijian, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, asked Pakistan to punish those responsible and ensure the protection of Chinese citizens in the country.
“China has requested that Pakistan to conduct a thorough investigation into the facts as soon as possible, apprehend and punish the offenders, and effectively protect Chinese workers, institutions, and projects in Pakistan,” he said.
Local officials were quoted as stating they were unsure if a device had been left by the roadside or on the vehicle itself, according to a number of media sources. According to Reuters, the top provincial police official, Moazzam Jah Ansari, stated as he flew to the accident site by helicopter, “Looks like sabotage.”
At least three additional officials verified the bus was hit by a blast, according to the news agency. It was a cowardly act, according to a Pakistani prime minister’s adviser. However, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry later stated that the bus had gone off the road “due to a technical breakdown leading in gas leakage, which resulted in a bomb.”
Some in Pakistan are skeptical of China’s massive investment initiatives, claiming that people are unaware of the benefits. Chinese-funded projects have been targeted, most recently in April when the Pakistani Taliban’s responsible for a suicide bombing at a luxury hotel in the province’s south-west. The Chinese ambassador was unharmed and remained in the hotel.
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