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Pakistan Foils Suicide Attack On Karachi Chinese Consulate, Dozens Dead In Separate Attack In Northwest


Pakistani paramedics carry an injured bomb blast victim to a hospital after the bombing at a market in the northwestern district of Orakzai.
Pakistani paramedics carry an injured bomb blast victim to a hospital after the bombing at a market in the northwestern district of Orakzai.

Pakistani police have killed three suspected suicide bombers who attacked the Chinese Consulate in Karachi before they were able to enter the facility, an incident which Pakistan's government has called a "conspiracy" against the strategic cooperation between Islamabad and Beijing.

Separately, at least 25 people were killed and 35 wounded in a bomb attack on a crowded market in a town in Pakistan's northwest.

In the Karachi attack, which was claimed by the separatist Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) insurgent group, two police officers and two Pakistani visa applicants were also killed.

"The situation is under control now, there were three attackers and all three have been killed.... They could not even get in the compound. They tried to get into the visa section," police chief Amir Shaikh told reporters.

The consulate building that is located in Clifton, a heavily guarded part of the city.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan ordered an inquiry into the attack, calling it a "conspiracy" against the strategic cooperation between China and Pakistan.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular press briefing in Beijing, "China strongly condemns any violent attacks against diplomatic agencies and requests that Pakistan takes practical measures to ensure the safety of Chinese citizens and institutions in the country."

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said all 21 Chinese staff inside the consulate were safe.

A BLA spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack.

"There were three suicide attackers," Jiand Baloch told Reuters by telephone. "They stormed the Chinese Embassy in Karachi. China is exploiting our resources."

A different spokesman, Geand Baloch, told AFP by telephone, "We have carried out this attack and our action is continuing."

China, a close ally of Pakistan, has invested billions of dollars into the South Asian country in recent years as part of a massive infrastructure project, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), that seeks to connect its western province Xinjiang with the Arabian Sea port of Gwadar.

Balochistan is Pakistan's largest and poorest province, and it is confronted with ethnic, sectarian, and separatist insurgencies.

Participating in the CPEC presents an enormous challenge for Pakistan, a country plagued by weak institutions, endemic corruption, and insurgencies in the regions that would host the corridor.

The future distribution of economic dividends from CPEC is extremely sensitive, particularly in resource-rich Balochistan, and various militant groups have repeatedly attacked construction sites and targeted Chinese workers.

Karachi, Pakistan's largest city and financial center, has been marred for a long time by political, sectarian, and ethnic militancy.

Meanwhile, at least 27 people were killed and up to 55 wounded when a bomb hidden in a carton of vegetables ripped through a crowded marketplace in Pakistan's northwest.

Local police official Tahir Ali said the attack took place in the town of Klaya, in the Orakzai region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, which borders Afghanistan. He said most of the victims were minority Shi'ite Muslims.

No militant group has claimed responsibility for the blast, but Orakzai has been the scene of militant attacks in recent years, mostly claimed by Pakistani Sunni militants.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP