Japanese workers narrowly escape suicide bombing in Pakistan

A suicide bomber has targeted a van carrying Japanese nationals in Pakistan’s port city of Karachi, police said.

The Japanese nationals escaped unharmed but officials later said one bystander was killed.

Police said the van was heading to an industrial area where the five Japanese nationals worked when it came under attack. Local police chief Arshad Awan said officers escorting the Japanese returned fire, killing a second attacker, the bomber’s accomplice.

“All the Japanese who were the target of the attack are safe,” Mr Awan added.

Pakistan blast
Five Japanese nationals narrowly escaped injury (AP)

Images on local news channels showed a damaged van as police officers arrived at the scene. Three passers-by who were wounded in the attack were taken to hospital, where one later died. The two others were said to be in stable condition.

President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif denounced the attack in separate statements, praised police for their quick response and vowed to eliminate terrorism. They also offered prayers for the casualties.

The Foreign Ministry confirmed the Japanese nationals were unhurt and said it “strongly condemns this heinous act of terrorism. All necessary measures will be taken to bring the perpetrators to justice”.

“Pakistan remains committed to ensuring the safety of foreign nationals residing in the country,” the ministry said.

The ministry said two Pakistani nationals were killed in Friday’s attack, which contradicted the statements from police and hospital officials who said one of the three wounded died.

The van was given a police escort after reports of possible attacks targeting foreigners working in Pakistan on various Chinese-funded and other projects, said Tariq Mastoi, a senior police officer.

He said a timely response from the guards and police foiled the attack and both attackers were killed.

No one immediately claimed responsibility, but suspicion is likely to fall on separatists or the Pakistani Taliban, who have stepped up attacks on security forces in recent years.

Insurgents have also targeted Chinese working in Pakistan on projects relating to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which includes big projects such as road construction, power plants and agriculture.

In March, five Chinese and their Pakistani driver were killed when a suicide bomber in north-western Pakistan rammed his explosive-laden car into a vehicle when they were heading to the Dasu Dam, the biggest hydropower project in Pakistan, where they worked.

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