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No plan to evacuate Chinese from Pakistan
By Le Tian (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-02-17 07:29

China has no plan to evacuate its engineers and technicians from Pakistan after gunmen shot dead three Chinese engineers there on Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday.

"A lot of Chinese work and live in Pakistan, and I don't think they should leave the country because of the incident," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said at a regular press conference.

Bodies of the Chinese workers are brought to a hospital after a shooting incident in the Pakistani town of Hub, near Karachi, February 15, 2006. Pakistani separatist gunmen killed three Chinese workers and their driver in a drive-by shooting in southern Pakistan on Wednesday. [Reuters]

The shooting happened at around 5 pm when the engineers' car was attacked in the town of Hub, about 700 kilometres southeast of Quetta, the Balochistan provincial capital. Two died on the spot, and another died later in a hospital.

The Pakistani driver was also killed but three other Chinese in the car escaped unhurt.

The attackers fled on motorcycle after the shooting, local police said.

The victims Long Hongbao, Wei Jianping and Zhao Bin are from the Hefei Cement Research & Design Institute in East China's Anhui Province. They were in Pakistan to offer technical services for the construction of a local cement factory, scheduled to be completed in the first half of this year.

Their bodies have been taken to the southern port city of Karachi.

The Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Commerce have sent task forces to handle the aftermath of the killings.

President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao asked Pakistan to track down the gunmen and ensure the safety of some 1,000 Chinese workers in the country.

Hu, who was informed about the killings late on Wednesday evening, ordered the Foreign Ministry, the embassy and consulates to urgently deal with the matter; and extended condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims.

Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing telephoned his Pakistani counterpart Khurshid Kasuri at 1 am yesterday and urged Pakistan to properly deal with the aftermath, catch the killers as soon as possible and make utmost efforts to ensure the safety of Chinese people in Pakistan.

Kasuri asked Li to convey condolences from Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to Hu and from Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz to Premier Wen Jiabao on the death of the engineers.

He told Li that the Pakistani Government would do its utmost to catch the murderers and ensure the safety of Chinese people.

Pakistan also issued a statement of strong condemnation.

"The people and government of Pakistan condemn in the strongest possible terms the killing of Chinese engineers,?said Foreign Office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam in the statement.

Police cordoned off the town and were searching for the assailants; and at least 47 suspects were detained yesterday, the Associated Press reported.

A group calling itself the Baluchistan Liberation Army yesterday claimed responsibility for the attack, which the Pakistan Foreign Ministry denounced as a "terrorist act?meant to "create a wedge between Pakistan and China.?

The 11 other Chinese engineers on the project were taken to the Chinese consulate in Karachi as a precaution.

A diplomat at the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad said Chinese workers were being asked to decide whether to stay there or go home. Chinese firms are heavily involved in infrastructure projects in the country.

"It's up to them to decide whether to leave or stay, and we will respect that.?

Chinese workers have been targeted in the past.

A bomb in the Baluch port of Gwadar killed three Chinese engineers and wounded nine in May 2004.

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