Chinese interests in Pakistan came under yet another terror attack on Sunday, highlighting the stiff resistance the Islamabad-Beijing cooperation is facing from the radical elements in the country.
The attack happened near the strategic southwestern port of Gwadar when militants attacked a Pakistani military convoy, which was accompanying Chinese nationals. The Chinese delegation was travelling to a construction project when they came under attack..
Chinese Nationals Unharmed
"Terrorists used small arms and hand grenades during the activity," the Pakistani military said in a statement, according to Reuters. While the Chinese nationals were unharmed, two militants were killed, the military added.
Pakistan is a strategic ally of China and the two countries have boosted cooperation in recent times, with Beijing launching key infrastructure projects in the country besides giving military and financial assistance.
As part of the projects, many Chinese nationals live and work in Pakistan. Most of them are working on projects that are part of the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Despite the two warm relations between the two countries, radical Islamists in Pakistan are opposed to the greater role China plays in the country.
In September last year, unidentified gunmen shot dead a Chinese national inside a dental clinic in Pakistan's largest city, Karachi. Two others were injured in the shooting. Earlier in April, three Chinese nationals were killed in a terror attack in Pakistan. The attack, which too happened in Karachi, was claimed by the separatist Baloch Liberation Army. The blast was carried out by a female suicide bomber.
In August 2021, a suicide bombing was carried out in the southwestern region of the country. The attack, which targeted a vehicle carrying Chinese nationals, killed two children and wounded three, including Chinese nationals.
Also in 2021, a blast on a bus in Pakistan had killed 13 people, including 9 Chinese nationals. The bus was carrying 30 Chinese engineers to the Dasu dam in Upper Kohistan. The Dasu hydropower project is part of the CPEC.
Pakistani separatist group the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) claimed Sunday's attack, according to reports. The BLA, which aims to free Balochistan from Pakistan, is opposed to China's exploit of the region's natural resources.
China is involved in the development of a port in the southern city of Gwadar, which has seen multiple terror attacks by the Baloch Liberation forces. The port is part of the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is itself part of China's Belt and Road infrastructure project. The Gwadar port is a strategic asset for China as it sits near the Strait of Hormuz, which plays a key role in international oil trade.