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Suicide Bombers Killed Before Entering Chinese Consulate In Karachi

Pakistani security personnel move in the compound of Chinese Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, Friday, Nov. 23, 2018. Pakistani police say gunmen have stormed the Chinese Consulate in the country's southern port city of Karachi, triggering an intense shooto
By RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal

Pakistani police killed three suicide bombers who attacked the Chinese consulate in Karachi before they were able to enter the facility, an incident which Pakistan's government has called a "conspiracy" against the strategic cooperation between Islamabad and Beijing.

Two police officers were also killed in the attack claimed by the separatist Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) insurgent group, which also describes itself as the Baloch Liberation Army.

""The situation is under control now, there were three attackers and all three have been killed ... They could not even get in the compound. They tried to get into the visa section," police chief Amir Shaikh told reporters.

Pakistani television channels said a small explosion was also heard near the consulate building that is located in Clifton, a heavily guarded part of the city.

Geo TV broadcast images of a plume of smoke billowing into the air, apparently from the blast.

"We are conducting a clearing operation now," Shaikh said.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan ordered an inquiry into the attack, calling it a "conspiracy" against the strategic cooperation between China and Pakistan.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular press briefing in Beijing, "China strongly condemns any violent attacks against diplomatic agencies and requests that Pakistan takes practical measures to ensure the safety of Chinese citizens and institutions in the country."

Meanwhile, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said all 21 Chinese staff inside the consulate are safe.

A BLA spokesman claimed responsibility for the attempted attack.

"There were three suicide attackers," Jiand Baloch told Reuters by telephone. "They stormed the Chinese embassy in Karachi. China is exploiting our resources."

A different spokesman, Geand Baloch, told AFP by telephone, "We have carried out this attack and our action is continuing."

China, a close ally of Pakistan, has invested billions of dollars into the South Asian country in recent years as part of a massive infrastructure project, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), that seeks to connect its western province Xinjiang with the Arabian Sea port of Gwadar.

Balochistan is Pakistan's largest and poorest province, and it is confronted with ethnic, sectarian, and separatist insurgencies.

Participating in the CPEC presents an enormous challenge for Pakistan, a country plagued by weak institutions, endemic corruption, and plagued by insurgencies in the regions that would host the corridor.

The future distribution of economic dividends from CPEC is extremely sensitive particularly in resource-rich Balochistan, and various militant groups have repeatedly attacked construction sites and targeted Chinese workers.

Karachi, Pakistan's largest city and financial center, has been marred for a long time by political, sectarian, and ethnic militancy.

In a separate attack on November 23, a blast at a crowded market in a town in Pakistan's northwest killed at least 12 people and wounded 20.

Local police official Tahir Ali said the market attack took place in the town of Klaya, in the Orakzai region of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which borders Afghanistan. He said most of the victims were minority Shi'ite Muslims.

No militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP