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After months, China confirms two nationals were abducted, killed in Pakistan

The couple, Li Zang Hing and Ming Leassi Ha, were kidnapped from Quetta by unidentified men in May and the Islamic State claimed responsibility for killing them the following month.

world Updated: Oct 31, 2017 19:18 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
Pakistan-China relations,Balochistan,Islamic State
Pakistani soldiers stand guard at the site where a Chinese couple was kidnapped in the neighbourhood of Jinnah Town in Quetta on May 24, 2017. (AFP)

China on Tuesday officially confirmed for the first time the death of two of its nationals who were abducted and executed by the Islamic State in Pakistan’s Balochistan province earlier this year.

The kidnapping of the two youngChinesecitizens in their twenties in Balochistan, which is at the heart of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), in May had triggered alarm bells in Beijing and highlighted the risks involved in the multi-billion dollar flagship project under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

On Monday, the Pakistan government condemned the killing of of two Chinese nationals, according to a statement released by the Foreign Office. “We condemn the abduction and murder of two innocent Chinese nationals,” the statement said.

A DNA test determined the identity of the dead foreigners as “husband and wife, identified as Li Zang Hing and Ming Leassi Ha”. They were kidnapped by unidentified men from Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, on May 24 and killed the following month.

On Tuesday, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying confirmed their deaths and expressed “sincere sympathies to the relatives of the victims”.

“We hope Pakistan can continue all-out efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice,” Hua said. “China condemns all forms of terrorism and violent attacks on innocent civilians.”

Hua said that China “attaches high importance to the security and legitimate rights and interests” of its citizens abroad. She urged overseas Chinese citizens to take note of all alerts and heighten their awareness.

The two Chinese nationals were first said to be teachers at a language centre but in later versions put out by Pakistani authorities – and supported by Chinese state media – they were made out to be Christian preachers working for a South Korean priest.

Seoul had rejected allegations that the two were Christian preachers misled by a South Korean.Officials had confirmed that 12Chinesenationals were taking Urdu lessons in a school run by a South Korean in Quetta.

First Published: Oct 31, 2017 19:18 IST