Car bomb killed five people at Pakistan hotel hosting China’s ambassador
A car bomb blast ripped through a luxury hotel’s parking area in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta on Wednesday, killing five people and wounding another 12, officials said.
China’s ambassador to Pakistan was staying at the hotel, but was not there when the bomb exploded, said Pakistan’s interior Minister, Sheikh Rashid Ahmad.
Provincial Home Minister Ziaullah Lango said the envoy was fine.
“An explosion has rocked the parking area of Serena Hotel,” said police official Nasir Malik, adding that 11 people had been wounded.
The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing.
“It was a suicide attack in which our suicide bomber used his explosives-filled car in the hotel,” a Taliban spokesman wrote in a text message.
Ambassador Nong Rong had earlier in the day met provincial Chief Minister Jam Kamal in the city, according to a tweet from the provincial government spokesman, Liaquat Shahwani.
Lango told reporters: “I just met him. He is in high spirits,” adding that the envoy would complete his visit to Quetta on Thursday.
The Chinese delegation was not at the hotel during the attack, said Wang Wenbin, a spokesman at the Chinese foreign ministry, adding that Beijing had yet to receive reports of any Chinese casualties.
“China strongly condemns this terrorist attack, and we are saddened by the innocent victims,” Wang said.
The hotel is next to the Iranian consulate and the provincial governor’s house. Quetta is the capital of southwestern Balochistan province which has long been the scene of a low-level insurgency by local nationalists.
Balochistan is poor despite its natural resources – a source of great anger to residents who complain they do not receive a fair share of the gas and mineral wealth.
Resentment has been fuelled by billions of dollars of Chinese money flowing into the region through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – a key part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative – which locals say gave them little benefit as most new jobs went to outsiders.
The province is home to the newly expanded Gwadar deep water port that is key to a planned US$65 billion investment in the belt and road strategy, China’s plan to grow global trade.
In 2019 gunmen stormed a luxury hotel overlooking the port, killing at least eight people.
And in June, Baloch insurgents targeted the Pakistan Stock Exchange, which is partly owned by Chinese companies.
The two attacks were claimed by the Balochistan Liberation Army.