“Three suicide attackers stormed the Chinese consulate in the Pakistani city of Karachi amid a series of gunshots and an explosion on Friday, but were killed before they could get into the building in a car packed with explosives, police said,” reports Reuters. Two civilian bystanders died, but no one at the consulate was injured.
The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), a separatist insurgent group in the resource-rich southwestern province of Balochistan, claimed responsibility. “China is exploiting our resources,” a BLA spokesperson told Reuters by telephone. He confirmed that there were three attackers. The Karachi police chief “said the three attackers came in a car filled with explosives but failed to get inside the heavily fortified compound.” Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan called the attack “part of conspiracy against Pak and China economic and strategic cooperation.”
A major artery of the Belt and Road — a signature project of Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 — is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which passes right through Balochistan, and terminates in the deep-water port in the town of Gwadar. The strategic importance of that port to China is apparent from the $1.62 billion Beijing initially budgeted to develop it, which was followed up with numerous other pledges and projects.
The BLA has fought an armed struggle against the state of Pakistan since 2004, demanding equal rights and self-determination for the Baloch people, and an end to repression and exploitation of Balochi resources. Over the last couple of years, the BLA has begun targeting Chinese projects and people in Pakistan.
In 2017, two Chinese teachers living in Quetta were kidnapped and executed, apparently by Islamic State militants in Balochistan. In August this year, a BLA suicide attacker drove a truck full of explosives into a bus carrying Chinese engineers near Quetta, the capital of Balochistan Province. The attacker died, and six passengers were injured. “We targeted this bus which was carrying Chinese engineers. We attacked them because they are extracting gold from our region, we won’t allow it,” said a BLA spokesperson, according to Agence France-Presse.