Gunmen killed three police in an overnight attack in northern Pakistan, and a suicide bomber wounded three Chinese engineers and three paramilitary guards in a separate incident, officials said on Saturday.
Faizullah Faraq, spokesman for the local government of northern Gilgit Baltistan territory, said one of the gunmen who attacked a police post was killed in the ensuing shootout late Friday. Another two police were wounded.
The suicide bomber struck near a bus carrying Chinese engineers from Baluchistan to Karachi on Saturday. Hashim Ghilzai, a senior official in the region, confirmed the six wounded. He said the attacker was in a parked car who blew himself up when the bus got closer to him in the Dalbandin area, around 340 km southwest of the provincial capital Quetta.
Local administration and police officials said that three Chinese nationals, two paramilitary soldiers from their security detail, and the bus driver were wounded in the attack.
Saifullah Khaitran, a senior local administration official, said that all the injured were in stable condition.
The engineers were working on the Saindak project, Khaitran said, a joint venture between Pakistan and China to extract gold, copper and silver from an area close to the Iranian border.
Muhammad Ibrahim, the driver of the targeted bus, told AFP from his hospital bed that he had averted major loss by slamming the brakes before the bus hit the attacker's vehicle.
“The whole bus would have burnt if I had not applied the brakes,” he said.
Balochistan is home to a long-running ethnic insurgency aimed at seeking greater control over the province's abundant mineral resources.
Militants in Pakistan carry out near-daily attacks, mainly targeting security forces. Most of the attacks have been linked to the Pakistani Taliban and other extremists.
The Baluch Liberation Army, a separatist group, claimed responsibility for the suicide attack - the first time any Baluch separatist group has taken responsibility for a suicide attack.
BLA spokesman Junaid Baluch in a statement on the group’s webpage that more such attacks would be carried out on Chinese involved in “exploiting the resources of Baluchistan.”
“We attacked them because they are extracting gold from our region, we won't allow it.”
Bordering Iran and Afghanistan, Balochistan is the largest of Pakistan’s four provinces, and many of its residents have long complained that it does not receive a fair share of its mineral wealth.
Pakistan regularly accuses its eastern neighbor India of funding and arming Baloch separatists, and of targeting development projects in the province.
Beijing has ramped up investment in its South Asian neighbor’s infrastructure as part of an ambitious plan to link its far-western Xinjiang region to the Arabian Sea port of Gwadar in Balochistan.