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World

REUTERS
June 9, 2017

Two Chinese kidnapped from Quetta

Abductees were studying Urdu at local language centre; passer-by shot as he tried to question...

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China says teachers kidnapped in Pakistan likely dead

China says teachers kidnapped in Pakistan likely dead

BEIJING: Pakistan has told China that two Chinese teachers kidnapped by Daesh in Pakistan are likely dead, a foreign ministry spokeswoman in Beijing said on Friday, adding the government was trying to get more details.

Daesh has claimed that its fighters killed the two teachers, who were kidnapped on May 24 in Balochistan, where China is investing billions of dollars in infrastructure projects.

The two, a man and a woman, were kidnapped in Quetta by armed men pretending to be policemen.

"According to the most recent information Pakistan has provided, these two kidnapped Chinese citizens have most probably already been murdered," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters.

China is trying to verify this information and is also ascertaining details about the victims, she added.

"China resolutely opposes and strongly condemns all forms of terrorism, and supports Pakistan´s efforts to fight terrorism and maintain domestic security and stability," Hua said.

Pakistan had gone all out in its rescue efforts and had promised to continue to do its utmost to protect Chinese citizens, she added.

The kidnapping was a rare security incident involving Chinese nationals in Pakistan, where Beijing has pledged $57 billion under its massive "Belt and Road" initiative to build rail, road and power infrastructure.

China says Pakistan, a long-time political and military ally, is a major part of its plans to build a modern day "Silk Road" network of land and maritime routes to connect Asia with Africa and Europe.

Key parts of the infrastructure will be in Balochistan, including the new port of Gwadar, which will be linked to western China under current plans.

The killing of the teachers was claimed by Daesh´s Amaq news agency on Thursday.

"IS fighters killed two Chinese people they had been holding in Balochistan province, southwest Pakistan," Amaq said.

A Balochistan government spokesman said officials were in the process of confirming whether the report was correct.

There was no immediate comment from Pakistan´s interior ministry or its foreign office.

GREATER CAUTION

Chinese state-run newspaper the Global Times, published by the official People´s Daily, said in an editorial on Friday China would never bow in the face of terror, but also said Chinese people should exercise greater caution abroad, especially in more remote areas.

"They also need to raise their ability to protect themselves, and as much as possible put distance between themselves and real danger," it said.

The claim of the killings sparked anger on Chinese social media, with some strongly anti-Muslim comments.

Daesh, which controls some territory in neighbouring Afghanistan, has struggled to establish a presence in Pakistan.

However, it has claimed several major attacks, including one on the deputy chairman of the Senate last month in Baluchistan, in which 25 people were killed.

On Thursday, Pakistan´s military published details of a three-day raid on a militant hideout in a cave not far from Quetta, saying it had killed 12 "hardcore terrorists" from a banned local Islamist group and prevented Islamic State from gaining a "foothold" in Balochistan.

China´s ambassador to Pakistan and other officials have often urged Islamabad to improve security, especially in Balochistan.

The numbers of Pakistanis studying Mandarin has skyrocketed since 2014, when President Xi Jinping signed off on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Consequently, any attack on Chinese interests in Pakistan would come as an embarrassment to Islamabad, which greatly prizes its relationship with Beijing.

The two refer to each other as "all weather friends".

Security in Balochistan has improved in recent years, but separatists, who view infrastructure projects as a ruse to steal natural resources, killed 10 Pakistani workers building a road near Gwadar this month.

China has also expressed concern about militants in Pakistan linking up with what China views as separatists in the far western Chinese region of Xinjiang, where hundreds have been killed in violence in recent years.

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