Pakistani police arrest woman suspected of planning attack on Chinese workers

Pakistani security forces have arrested a woman on suspicion of planning attacks on Chinese workers in the southwest province of Balochistan.

Al Jazeera reports that police believe the woman is a member of a separatist group known as the Balochistan Liberation Army, and was planning to blow herself up near a convoy of Chinese nationals along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

They added that a search had recovered explosives and detonators.

Last month, the Balochistan Liberation Army claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed three Chinese teachers and their Pakistani driver at the University of Karachi.

The group then issued a statement saying it planned “even harsher” attacks unless China halted “exploitation projects” and its “occupation of the Pakistani state” (see further reading)

After the woman’s arrest, Shahbaz Sharif, Pakistan’s newly installed prime minister, held a telephone conversation with Li Keqiang, the prime minister of China, in which he expressed  condolences over the April killings and promised maximum security for Chinese workers in Pakistan.

The same day, a roadside bomb exploded near a police van in the southern port city of Karachi on Monday, killing a woman passer-by and wounding 13 others, said senior police official Ali Mardan Khoso. No group has yet claimed it carried out the attack.

Pakistan is a major recipient of China’s Belt and Road funding, aimed principally at the development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a suite of infrastructure schemes with an estimated value of $62bn.

The corridor depends on access to Balochistan and in particular the newly built deepwater port of Gwadar. In August last year, two children were killed and three wounded in an attack targeting Chinese nationals in that city.

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