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November 26, 2018

A dozen arrested in Chinese consulate attack case


November 26, 2018

Security forces have sped up their operations across the country and detained over a dozen suspects following Friday’s failed attempt of storming the Chinese consulate general in Karachi.

Investigators believe that the assailants aimed to hoist the flag of the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) on the consulate if they had succeeded in their attack. Senior counterterrorism officer Raja Omar Khattab told The News on Sunday that the arrests were made during a series of countrywide raids in Karachi, Sukkur, Shikarpur, Quetta and Kharan.

Sources privy to the matter revealed that a woman is also among the detainees and that the suspects have been shifted to separate locations where officials from different agencies are questioning them. It has been learnt that the attackers had arrived from Balochistan on a bus and stayed somewhere in Karachi, most probably in the Sher Shah locality.

“Some more suspects with whom the attackers were in touch, their logistical supporters and those who provided them places to stay have been arrested,” said Karachi police chief Additional IGP Dr Amir Shaikh. He said that different agencies, including the Rangers and the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD), are investigating the case.

Four people — two police guards and two visa applicants (a father and a son) — lost their lives and a security guard of the consulate was wounded after three attackers armed with sophisticated weapons, hand grenades and other explosives attempted to storm the building in the upmarket Clifton neighbourhood. However, security forces killed all the three militants before they could enter the consulate’s premises.

The assault on the Chinese consulate was more than just that for the perpetrators. They carried out the attack not only to inflict harm but also to deliver a message that they were willing to go to any lengths in their “freedom movement”.

“The attackers had brought a BLA flag with them which they intended to hoist on the consulate in place of the Chinese national flag,” said the CTD’s Khattab, “but they could not do so because they were killed before they could enter the premises.”

Investigators believe that while the attackers were trained, they were inexperienced and lacked courage. “They were trained, as they had sophisticated weapons, grenades and explosives, but they had no field experience and courage like Taliban militants,” explained Khattab.

“They had planned to take Chinese diplomats and staff hostage and continue their action for hours, since they had brought food supplies and medicines with them.” Separatist groups of Balochistan have so far been involved in various major and minor attacks and bomb blasts across the country, including in Karachi, but this was the BLA’s second suicide attack.

This August, at least six people, including three Chinese engineers, were wounded in a suicide attack on a bus in the Dalbandin area of the Chagai district. The BLA had claimed responsibility for the attack.

The bus carrying Chinese engineers was being escorted by Frontier Corps troops to the Dalbandin airport from the Saindak copper and gold mines when the bomber tried to ram his explosives-laden vehicle into the bus. “Basically, it was not a suicide attack, as no suicide vest was recovered, but it was a suicide mission,” Khattab clarified. “We are going to break the nexus of major and minor separatist groups of Sindh and Balochistan that are being operated by RAW.”

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