Police say they were running a language center in Gwadar
Two Chinese nationals working in Pakistan were kidnapped on Wednesday, local police and China’s state media said, in an attack which could raise safety concerns for Beijing’s multi-billion dollar investment in the country.
The abductions happened in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province, which is at the heart of the $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and which is wracked by separatist and Islamist insurgencies.
“A Chinese couple was kidnapped from the neighborhood of Jinnah town in Quetta today, the couple were running a Chinese language center,” said senior local police official Aitzaz Goraya. “When they left the language center for lunch, they were dragged into a vehicle without number plates by three unknown men,” he said. The men then began firing weapons in the air to scare off onlookers.
One Chinese woman managed to escape and ran back to the center, while a passerby received a gunshot wound.
The incident was confirmed by Ahsan Mehboob, the provincial police chief.
Passerby Muhammad Zahir told AFP: “I was walking on the road when I saw three men forcing a Chinese woman in a white car and she was refusing and crying, I stopped to observe the situation but they had forced the woman in the car by then and were pushing the man. So I rushed to them and asked what they were doing. One of them said we are from the crime branch of the police and we are taking them for investigation and I told them that they should not misbehave with people, then the driver came out and shot me in my foot,” the 35-year-old said.
Chinese state media confirmed the kidnappings, while deputy chief of mission in Islamabad Lijian Zhao said the embassy was working toward their release.
China is ramping up investment in its South Asian neighbor as part of a plan unveiled in 2015 that will link its far-western Xinjiang region to Pakistan’s Gwadar port in Balochistan with a series of infrastructure, power and transport upgrades.