Beijing envoy 'not the target' of terror blast

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 23 Apr 2021

The Pakistani Taleban claimed responsibility yesterday for a deadly suicide blast at a luxury hotel hosting the Chinese ambassador in the southwest of the country, as officials raised the death toll to five.

Beijing said it strongly condemned the attack, although the Taleban said Pakistan security officials were the target of the blast.

The bomber detonated the explosives from a vehicle in the car park of the Serena hotel - part of a five-star chain popular with diplomats and aid agencies - in the city of Quetta, capital of Balochistan province.

Pakistan is fighting several low-level insurgencies in the impoverished province, waged by Islamist, separatist and sectarian groups.

"The suicide bomber hit the security officials exactly as it was planned," a spokesperson for Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan said.

The country's interior minister confirmed a suicide bomber had carried out the attack, as he pinned the blame on a "foreign hand."

Pakistan often accuses India of using insurgent groups, including in Afghanistan, as proxy forces to wage an ongoing shadow war between the arch-rivals.

Describing the blast as a "terrorist attack," China's foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in Beijing that the Chinese delegation was not present when the bomb was detonated.

Balochistan is Pakistan's largest and poorest province despite being rich in natural resources.

Resentment has been fueled by billions of dollars of Chinese money flowing into the region through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor - a key part of Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative - which locals say gave them little benefit as most new jobs go to outsiders.

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