A file photo shows Pakistani paramilitary soldiers standing guard at a checkpoint in Quetta, Balochistan. EFE/F. Ahmed

Pakistani militants attack Chinese engineers of Balochistan port project

Islamabad, Aug 13 (EFE).- Suspected militants attacked a convoy of Chinese engineers working on a China-funded port development project in Pakistan’s troubled Balochistan province, officials said.

No casualties were reported on the Chinese side, but security forces claimed to have gunned down the two assailants who lobbed bombs and opened fire on three SUVs and a van going to Gwadar port in Pakistan’s southwest.

“Both the terrorists were killed while all the Chinese citizens remained safe in the attack,” Abdul Basit, an officer at Gwadar police station, told EFE.

A statement from the Chinese embassy in Islamabad said the convoy carrying Chinese engineers “was attacked near the port of Gwadar in Balochistan” that “caused no casualties on the Chinese side.”

The embassy “strongly condemns the terrorist act,” the statement said, urging Pakistan to “take practical effective measures to prevent similar incidents from happening again.”

The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), which fights for the independence of the resources-rich region, claimed responsibility for the attack.

The militant group said its suicide attackers targeted “a convoy of Chinese engineers.”

The Pakistan military said the attack was on its convoy and did not mention that the Chinese engineers were the target.

Security Forces of Pakistan remain determined to thwart the efforts of the enemies of peace and prosperity in the country.

The attack killed “at least four four Chinese nationals and nine personnel of Pakistani military,” said the group, which often inflates casualty figures suffered by the Pakistan security forces.

China has a huge presence in Pakistan for the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a multi-billion dollar infrastructure project financed by Beijing.

It is the latest in a series of attacks in the volatile Balochistan province, which has battled decades of insurgency against what rebels allege is the unfair exploitation of resources in the mineral-rich region.

The region borders Afghanistan to the north and Iran to the west. It has a long coastline on the Arabian Sea and is home to Pakistan’s largest natural gas field.

The Baloch Liberation Army usually claims attacks on security forces and is among the most prominent separatist groups in the region. EFE