An attack on a bus in northern Pakistan last month that killed 10 Chinese labourers and three Pakistanis was a suicide attack carried out by a branch of the Pakistani Taliban, Pakistan’s foreign minister says, placing the blame for the bombing on the Indian and Afghan intelligence services.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was speaking at a news conference in the capital Islamabad on Thursday, and was flanked by Javed Iqbal, a senior counterterrorism police officer, and Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri, the foreign ministry’s spokesman.
“The explosive [improvised explosive device]-laden vehicle, the driver who did this entire attack, we found a thumb from the site and we found a finger and we found [other] body parts,” said Qureshi. “The suicide bomber, they were obviously his.”
Qureshi said the vehicle used in the attack had been smuggled into Pakistan from Afghanistan.
“According to our investigation, Afghanistan’s soil was used for this attack, for its planning, its execution and the making of the plans, we see them clearly connected to an NDS and RAW nexus.”
The National Directorate of Security (NDS) is the Afghan intelligence agency, while the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) is India’s main intelligence agency. Neither country’s foreign ministries offered immediate comment following the allegations.
The attack took place in the northern Pakistan region of Dasu on July 14, targeting a bus carrying Chinese and Pakistani workers to the site of an under-construction hydroelectric dam, part of the $60bn China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry says the attack was carried out by the Swat chapter of the Pakistan Taliban, known by the acronym TTP, an armed group that has waged a war against Pakistani forces since 2007 and is suspected to be based in eastern Afghanistan after Pakistani military operations displaced it from its strongholds in the country.
Iqbal, the senior police officer, said two Pakistani facilitators of the attack had been arrested, with three further planners identified as being present in Afghanistan.
Pakistan has requested that Afghanistan hand over the three suspects through a mutual legal assistance request, he said.
“The entire facilitation network here has been arrested, those who have planned the car … and the three planners present in Afghanistan, through proper channels using mutual legal assistance we have requested the Afghan government to hand them over to us, with proof of course of their involvement,” said Iqbal.
Foreign Minister Qureshi said he expected Afghanistan to act on the request.
“Afghanistan and Pakistan have an understanding that we will not allow our soil to be used by anyone against each other,” he said.
“Now, we have made this revelation that their soil has been used, and we hope that with that same understanding in mind they should cooperate with us, on principle.”