Four people, including three Chinese nationals, were killed on Tuesday in an explosion that targeted a van they were traveling in on the premises of the University of Karachi.
Police told journalists that the bombing took place at 1:52 p.m. in a van near the Karachi University’s Confucius Institute—a Chinese language teaching center—and that some of the deceased had been members of the faculty at the varsity.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the University of Karachi identified the deceased as Confucius Institute Director Huang Guiping; lecturer Ding Mufang; Chen Sa; and driver Khalid. They said that four people had been injured in the incident—Wang Yuqing, Hamid, a private guard, and a Rangers personnel tasked with the security of the vehicle.
The blast was initially reported to have been caused by a gas cylinder. However, senior police officials later said that they could not rule out terrorism. Addressing media at the site of the incident, East Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Muqaddas Haider said it was too soon to confirm the nature of the blast. “I cannot verify and establish the nature of the attack at this moment,” he said, adding that more details would be provided after a full investigation had been completed.
Haider said CCTV footage was being analyzed for more clues, adding initial reports suggested the van was headed toward the Confucius Institute after leaving the hostel.
According to police, a forensics team has collected evidence from the site. They said some ball bearings—a hallmark of suicide bombings—had been collected from the location, with sources within the Bomb Disposal Squad claiming it appeared 2kg of explosives had been used in the suspected bombing. Karachi Police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon said that initial investigations suggested a burqa-clad woman might have perpetrated the suicide blast, but refused to confirm anything until a probe had been completed.
In a statement, the Baloch Liberation Army claimed responsibility for the bombing, saying it had targeted the Chinese nationals. “The mission was carried out by the first female [suicide bomber] of the Majeed Brigade,” it said. “[Bomber] Shari Baloch alias Bramsh added a new chapter in Baloch resistance history,” it added. This claim could not be independently verified, but aligns with previous attacks on Chinese nationals in Pakistan that have also been claimed by Baloch separatists. CCTV footage of the incident shows a woman standing alone at the entrance of the varsity, with an explosion occurring as soon as the van approached her.
Taking notice of the incident, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has directed the Karachi East deputy commissioner and the superintendent of police to personally visit the blast side immediately. He also directed authorities to shift all injured to the Dow University Hospital and sought a detailed report of the incident from the Karachi commissioner.
Separately, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has sought a detailed report of the bombing. According to a statement, he has telephoned the Sindh chief minister and assured the federal government’s help and support.
Editor’s Note: This story is still developing and will be updated as more information becomes available.