China 'concerned' about reported killing of two nationals in Pakistan

Islamic State claimed Thursday that it had killed two captive Chinese nationals in southwestern Pakistan.

The two Chinese are said to have been studying Urdu at a language centre in the city of Quetta when they were abducted.

"The Chinese side is working to learn about and verify relevant information through various channels, including working with Pakistani authorities", it said.

China early Friday expressed grave concern over the killings of the two Chinese nationals.

Amaq news agency's statement is published on Reuters' website. The kidnapping was a rare security incident involving Chinese nationals in Pakistan, where Beijing has pledged US$57 billion for its "Belt and Road" trade plan.

China condemned the kidnapping, saying it "attaches high importance to the safety of Chinese citizens overseas" and the state-run media had said the abduction "highlights risks" associated with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

They were killed in this week's operation in the southwestern province of Baluchistan, where the military said it foiled an attempt to set up an organized IS militant base. There was no immediate confirmation from Chinese or Pakistan officials.

China has not formally identified the two teachers. Another Chinese woman just managed to escape during the confrontation.

Islamic State controls some territory in Afghanistan and has been seeking to strengthen its hold in Pakistan since 2015 when it carried out its first attack in the country.

An IS group claimed a suicide attack targeting a Pakistani lawmaker last month in the same district, which killed 25 people. In Islamabad, two Pakistani security officials said they were investigating but that no bodies have been found.

China is one of Pakistan's major allies, investing heavily in infrastructure projects including nuclear power plants, roads and dams.

IS has taken credit for several recent deadly suicide bombings in Baluchistan and elsewhere in Pakistan.

The Chinese presence in Pakistan has increased in the past few years due to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor and the Pakistani government has deployed 15,000 military personnel to protect projects under the economic corridor.

  • Arturo Norris