ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistani police arrested a would-be suicide bomber who planned to blow herself up near a convoy of Chinese nationals along the China Pakistan Economic-Corridor (CPEC), a police statement said.
Monday’s arrest came two weeks after a woman suicide bomber blew herself up on a university campus in the southern port city of Karachi, killing three Chinese teachers and their Pakistani driver.
Police arrested the militant in southwestern Balochistan province that borders Afghanistan and Iran, the statement said.
She belongs to the separatist Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), which has started using women militants as suicide bombers, police said, a new phenomenon for counter-terrorism police who are more used to dealing with such attacks by Islamist militants.
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“The woman wanted to target a convoy of Chinese nationals,” police said, adding the attack was planned along a route of China Pakistan Economic-Corridor (CPEC).
Police recovered explosives and detonators from the woman and investigated her, revealing her plans to target Chinese nationals. No other evidence was produced to support their accusation.
The Karachi suicide bomber was also a member of the BLA, the police statement said.
China is a close Pakistan ally and the CPEC is $65 billion-plus investment in infrastructure in Pakistan, part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative to seek road and sea trade routes to connect with the rest of the world.
Balochistan is home to a deep-water port in Gwadar city, which Beijing is developing under the CPEC.
Baloch separatist guerrillas say they’ve been fighting for decades for a greater share in regional mine and mineral resources.
They attack gas plants, infrastructure, security forces and Chinese interests, which they say amount to the occupation of their land and resources in the name of development.
Their attacks against Chinese nationals have since the fall of the Afghan capital to the Islamist Taliban in August last year.
The Taliban deny Pakistan’s accusations that the insurgents use Afghan soil to train the militants and plan the attacks.
Islamabad also blames arch-rival neighbouring India for backing the insurgents, a charge New Delhi denies.
(Reporting by Asif Shahzad; Editing by Nick Macfie)
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