Gunmen kidnap two Chinese nationals in Balochistan
A large number of Chinese nationals, most of them associated with projects that are part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, are based in Quetta and other parts of Balochistan.Updated: May 25, 2017 00:29 IST
Two Chinese nationals were kidnapped at gun point from Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province, on Wednesday, prompting authorities to launch a search operation for their recovery.
A third Chinese national managed to evade the kidnappers while a passerby was shot in the foot when he tried to intervene. The Chinese embassy in Islamabad confirmed the incident.
No one claimed responsibility for the abduction though reports suggested the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), a separatist group, might be involved.
Eyewitness Muhammad Zahir told the media the incident occurred in Jinnah Town, an upmarket residential area of Quetta. He said he tried to stop two men who were forcing a Chinese woman into a white car. When he challenged them, a third man emerged from the car and shot him.
Initially, the kidnappers told Zahir they were from the special branch of police and were taking in the Chinese woman for questioning. It is believed the Chinese man was already in the car at the time.
Balochistan chief minister Sanaullah Zehri ordered a manhunt for the kidnapped Chinese nationals. Police and Frontier Corps personnel began a search operation while the deputy chief of the Chinese mission in Islamabad, Lijian Zhao, said the embassy too was working for their release.
The BLA is protesting against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in Balochistan on the ground that local residents are being ignored and the province’s resources are being taken away by outsiders. The BLA has been fighting the Pakistan Army for the past decade.
Pakistan has accused India of being behind the troubles in Balochistan and is currently holding an Indian national, Kulbushan Jadhav, in jail after he convicted of involvement in subversive activities in Sindh and Balochistan.
A large number of Chinese nationals, most of them associated with projects that are part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, are based in Quetta and other parts of Balochistan, including Gwadar port.
In November last year, two Chinese engineers were killed by unidentified assailants in Pasni district of Balochistan. Two more Chinese engineers were killed in a roadside blast in Hub district last September.
Pakistan has set up a special force – the Special Security Division – comprising 9,000 soldiers and 6,000 paramilitary personnel to protect the projects that are part of the $46-billion CPEC and Chinese nationals working on them.