Chinese language teachers kidnapped in Pakistan city

Abductors pretended to be policemen

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani fruit vendor reads a newspaper as he waits for customers on a street in Islamabad yesterday. — AFP

QUETTA: Armed men pretending to be policemen kidnapped two Chinese language teachers in the Pakistani city of Quetta yesterday, provincial officials said, an attack likely to raise concerns in Beijing about its huge investment plans. China has pledged to invest $57 billion in Pakistani road, rail and power infrastructure in a flagship project of its vast Belt and Road initiative for a network of modern-day “Silk Road” routes connecting Asia with Europe and Africa. China’s ambassador to Pakistan and other officials have often urged Islamabad to improve security, especially in the province of Baluchistan, where China is building a new port and funding roads to link its western regions with the Arabian Sea.

Anwar ul Haq Kakar, a Baluchistan government spokesman, said men pretending to be police officers kidnapped the Chinese teachers and wounded a passerby who tried to stop them. “A Chinese couple has been kidnapped,” Kakar said, adding that officials had earlier mistaken the wounded passerby for a security guard. “(The passerby) inquired why they were doing this and they said they were from a law enforcement agency, but when he asked for their identification cards, they shot him,” added Kakar.

No group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, but in the past Islamist militant groups have kidnapped foreigners inside Pakistan for ransom or publicity for their cause. The Chinese embassy in Islamabad confirmed two of its nationals had been kidnapped, China’s state news agency Xinhua said. In Beijing, Foreign Minister Wang Yi declined to comment, when queried by Reuters at an event. China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment sent after office hours.

Quetta police chief Razza Cheema said another Chinese woman narrowly evaded the kidnappers outside a language centre in Jinnah, near the international airport on the city’s outskirts. “Armed men took the couple into custody at gunpoint when they were coming out from the centre,” Cheema said. The numbers of Pakistanis studying Mandarin has skyrocketed since 2014, when President Xi Jinping signed off on the vast plans to fund power and road infrastructure. It was not immediately clear if the kidnapped Chinese workers were in Pakistan on behalf of the Chinese government or one of the many state-owned enterprises working out of Pakistan.- Reuters

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