(Update 1: updates with Taliban claiming responsibility, adds details)
Islamabad, Apr 22 (EFE).- The main Taliban affiliate in Pakistan, the Tehreek-e-Taliban-Pakistan (TTP), on Thursday claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing in the parking lot of a luxury hotel in Quetta, western Pakistan, ahead of the Chinese ambassador’s arrival, in which 5 people were killed and 11 injured.
“The suicide bomber hit the security officials as planned,” the TTP said in a statement, without mentioning the possible target, the Chinese Ambassador in Pakistan Nong Rong.
The attack took place late on Wednesday when the bomber detonated an explosive-ridden vehicle with himself inside in the parking area of Hotel Serena, a luxury hotel where Nong was staying along with a Chinese delegation.
However, the ambassador was not on the premises during the bombing.
“The bomb went off before he (the ambassador) arrived. So he was stopped (from) going there,” Quetta police spokesperson Asad Khan told EFE. .
At first it was reported to be a car bombing, but the Taliban said that it was a suicide attack, a detail which was later confirmed by Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed in a press conference.
“Out of the 11 injured, 6 are still in the hospital and others have been discharged. One or two are critical” Rasheed said.
The Chinese embassy in Pakistan confirmed the presence of Nong and a Chinese delegation in Quetta and that they were not in the hotel at the time of the attack.
“No reports of casualties of Chinese citizens in the attack have been received,” the embassy said in a statement.
The heavily guarded hotel is a popular destination for Pakistani authorities, diplomats, and businesspersons to stay when they travel to the troubled Pakistani city of Quetta.
Quetta is the capital of the resource-rich but restive province of Balochistan.
Several armed groups are fighting a decades-old separatist war in the largely under-developed province with massive coal and gas reservoirs taken by foreign investors.
It is not the first time that an attack has targeted China on Pakistani soil.
In 2018, a group of gunmen attacked the Chinese consulate in the southern city of Karachi.
In May 2019, an attack on the Pearl Continental hotel in Gwadar, in Balochistan, killed four civilians and three attackers.
Police claimed that the attack targeted Chinese and foreign investors.
China has a widespread presence in Pakistan due to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, an ambitious infrastructure project financed by Beijing with a $60,000-million investment.
The CPEC, launched in 2015, finances the construction of a trade route that will connect Kashgar in the northwest Chinese Xinjiang province with the Pakistani port of Gwadar that provides China a gateway to the Arabian sea. EFE