Female Schoolteacher Suicide Bomber Attacks Chinese Confucius Institute in Pakistan

TOPSHOT - Police inspect a site around damaged vehicles following a suicide bombing near the Confucious Institute affiliated with the Karachi University, in Karachi on April 26, 2022. - A woman suicide bomber from a Pakistan separatist group killed four people, including three Chinese nationals, in an attack on a …

A suicide bomber detonated herself outside of the Confucius Institute at Karachi University, Pakistan, on Tuesday afternoon, killing three Chinese citizens and one Pakistani.

Confucius Institutes are Communist Party-funded organizations within international universities set up to promote the Party’s interpretation of Chinese culture, Party ideology, and China’s national interests. The attack is the latest in a string of terrorist killings targeting Chinese projects in Pakistan, where the country has invested heavily in infrastructure projects tie to its international Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper, citing CCTV video footage of the attack, reported the suicide bomber detonated herself outside of the Confucius Institute entrance while wearing a burqa – an Islamic full-body covering for women – and hit four people, including the driver of a van close to where she killed herself.

An unnamed police official told Dawn that the attacker was likely carrying five to ten kilograms (11-22 pounds) of explosives, enough to destroy the windows of the Department of Commerce headquarters on the first floor of the same building housing the Confucius Institute.

Eyewitnesses told Dawn that, in addition to those killed, an unknown number of bystanders were injured by falling glass.

“The shattered glass from there fell on the feet of some girl students below who were screaming as they got cuts on their feet and toes,” Chaudhry Hadi, a security guard at the Confucius Institute, said.

Police adjusts crime scene barricade tape at the blast site a day after a suicide attack on a van near the Confucius institute which is the cultural programme that China operates at universities around the world at the Karachi University in Karachi on April 27, 2022. (RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP via Getty)

Hadi identified the Pakistani victim of the attack, Khalid Bhai, as a supervisor who “used to ride in the van with the Chinese with a gun to protect them.”

“Still, who would have known that he wouldn’t even get the time to take out his gun or get them all to a safe place? It was all so sudden, so unexpected. No gun can save you from a bomb blast,” Hadi was quoted as saying.

Local reports stated that Khalid, identified both as Khalid Bhai and Khalid Nawaz, left behind seven children.

“A spokesperson for the university confirmed that three of the victims were Chinese nationals. They were identified as Confucius Institute Director Huang Guiping, Ding Mupeng and Chen Sai. The fourth victim was the van’s driver, Khalid,” Dawn reported.

Police confirmed that they have launched an investigation into who helped the bomber stage the attack.

Following the blast, a separatist group called the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) took responsibility for the bombing and identified the perpetrator as Shari Baloch, a 30-year-old schoolteacher leaving behind a husband and two children, Indian and Pakistani news outlets confirmed. The Pakistan Express Tribune reported that Baloch kept a social media profile full of vague inspirational quotes by figures such as Mahatma Gandhi and Ernesto “Che” Guevara and a user identifying himself as her husband praised Baloch for her “selfless act.”

“Baloch Liberation Army’s Majeed Brigade targeted Chinese officials in an attack on Tuesday in Karachi. Three Chinese officials Huang Guiping, Ding Mufang, and Chen Sai were killed in the attack, whereas, Wang Yuqing and their security guards were injured,” the terrorist organization, which is demanding a separate state for the Baloch ethnic group from Pakistan, said in a statement, according to India today. “Today’s mission was successfully carried out by Majeed Brigade’s fidayeen Shaari Baloch alias Bramsh, resident of Niazar Abad Turbat.”

The statement accused the Pakistani government of “genocide” against Baloch people and explicitly condemning China for its friendship with the government.

“Targeting director and officials of Confucius institute, the symbol of Chinese economic, cultural and political expansionism, was to give a clear message to China that its direct or indirect presence in Balochistan will not be tolerated,” the BLA asserted, accusing the Communist Party of “looting Baloch resources and aiding Pakistan militarily.”

Baloch, the suicide bomber, was reportedly a primary school teacher with a master’s degree in zoology and studying for a master’s in philosophy. The Express Tribune claimed to find Baloch’s Twitter profile. The profile it claimed to verify shared a message reading, simply, “farewell and companionship” on Tuesday morning.

The account also posted several seemingly inspirational messages in the days before the attack, including a statement citing communist mass murderer Che Guevara.

“Che Guevara said that those who die but reject deals [to hand over] their conscience [die] well because the deal is not yours, it is for generations,” the account wrote.

The Express Tribune found an account allegedly belonging to Baloch’s husband, Habitan Bashir Baloch, which posted a message appearing to praise the alleged bomber.

“Shari Jan, your selfless act has left my speechless but I am also beaming with pride today,” the account wrong, along with what appeared to be a private family photo. “Mahroch and Meer Hassan will grow into very proud humans thinking what a great woman their mother was. You will continue to remain an important part of our lives.”

While the post appears to violate Twitter terms of use as it celebrates terrorism, it still appears to be available publicly at press time.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry called the attack “egregious and outrageous” during a regular press briefing on Wednesday.

“This suicide terrorist attack is premeditated and targeted at Chinese citizens. It is egregious and outrageous that the terrorists targeted teachers who were dedicated to carrying forward human civilization and promoting cultural exchanges,” spokesman Wang Wenbin said. “The Chinese side expresses strong condemnation and grave indignation over this.”

“The Pakistani side needs to take more robust measures to ensure the safety of Chinese citizens and institutions in Pakistan and prevent such incidents from happening again,” Wang demanded, later adding, “I also want to stress that the iron-clad friendship between China and Pakistan is unbreakable and any attempt to undermine China-Pakistan mutual trust and cooperation and the building of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will never succeed. The terrorists will pay a heavy price for their crimes.”

The Chinese state-run propaganda outlet Global Times appeared not to accept that the BLA was involved in the attack, suggesting that the “East Turkistan Islamic Movement,” a nonexistent Uyghur terrorist group, may have been responsible.

Rangers stand guard nearby the blast site a day after a suicide attack on a van near the Confucius institute which is the cultural programme that China operates at universities around the world at the Karachi University in Karachi on April 27, 2022. (RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP via Getty Images)

“Soon after the explosion, the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), a militant separatist group, announced responsibility,” the Times relayed on Tuesday. “Experts said that given the capability and willingness, the BLA is the biggest suspect but the Pakistan Taliban, IS [the Islamic State] or the ‘East Turkistan Islamic Movement’ could also be involved.”

“Was this attack initiated by a single organization or was it supported and manipulated by larger forces behind?” the Global Times asked in a separate editorial on Wednesday. “We want to say that no matter who the perpetrators are and whom they are targeting, they must be severely punished. The Pakistani side must conduct a comprehensive and detailed investigation and give the Chinese side an explanation.”

The Chinese state outlet also blamed “the US’ withdrawal from Afghanistan last year” for facilitating terrorism, without elaborating on what relationship that event had to Baloch separatist activity in Pakistan.

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