A concerned China on Friday asked Pakistan to step up security for thousands of Chinese working on CPEC projects after three heavily-armed gunmen stormed its consulate in Karachi, but said it “highly appreciated” Islamabad’s quick response to thwart the attack.
Strongly condemning the attack, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters the gunmen tried to enter the consulate but were repulsed by Pakistani policemen. All the three gunmen and two policemen were killed in the incident, he said.
“The gunmen had not entered the consulate. The crossfire happened outside the consulate general office,” he said.
“All Chinese staff and families in the consulate are safe. Pakistan prime minister sent condolence to the consulate general. China strongly condemns the violent attack on diplomatic missions,” Geng said.
“We have asked the Pakistani side to take measures to ensure the safety of Chinese citizens and organisations there. At the same time, we mourn for the two policemen killed. We express our sympathy to the families and injured,” he said.
Asked about the Balochistan National Army (BNA), a separatist group, claiming responsibility for the attack, Geng declined to go into the details saying, “Pakistani side is conducting investigation on this incident”.
The BNA staunchly opposes the USD 60-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor connecting Gwadar port in Balochistan province in southern Pakistan with China’s Xinjiang province through a maze of rail and road projects.
To a question whether any attacker managed to escape, Geng said, “According to my information three gunmen attempted to barge into the consulate building. All of them were killed. The consulate is closed now,” he said.
Asked whether China is satisfied with the Pakistani security forces’ response, Geng said, “I think Pakistan has taken immediate, effective measures to protect the staff of the consulate general office. Two policemen were killed. We highly appreciate the efforts made by Pakistan,” he said.
Asked whether the attack will have any impact on the CPEC, he said, “China and Pakistan are all-weather partners. Our pragmatic cooperation has delivered benefits to two peoples. Advancing the CPEC is also the consensus reached by the two countries’ leaders”.
He said the CPEC is of great significance for the development and its construction is a priority for the two counties.
“We will work with Pakistan to advance the CPEC and deliver more benefits for the two countries and other countries in the region,” he said.
“China appreciates the measures taken by Pakistan to safeguard the CPEC, hinese citizens and institutions. We believe the Pakistani side will take effective measures to safeguard the safety of the CPEC and make the project to advance in a smooth way,” he said.
India has protested to Pakistan over the CPEC as it traverses through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.