5 Japanese Workers in Pakistan Escape Suicide Blast Targeting their Van

A Pakistani security official stands guard as the body of an alleged terrorist, killed by security forces at the scene of a suicide bomb attack, is shifted to a hospital in Karachi, Pakistan, 19 April 2024. EPA/SHAHZAIB AKBER
A Pakistani security official stands guard as the body of an alleged terrorist, killed by security forces at the scene of a suicide bomb attack, is shifted to a hospital in Karachi, Pakistan, 19 April 2024. EPA/SHAHZAIB AKBER
TT

5 Japanese Workers in Pakistan Escape Suicide Blast Targeting their Van

A Pakistani security official stands guard as the body of an alleged terrorist, killed by security forces at the scene of a suicide bomb attack, is shifted to a hospital in Karachi, Pakistan, 19 April 2024. EPA/SHAHZAIB AKBER
A Pakistani security official stands guard as the body of an alleged terrorist, killed by security forces at the scene of a suicide bomb attack, is shifted to a hospital in Karachi, Pakistan, 19 April 2024. EPA/SHAHZAIB AKBER

A suicide bomber targeted a van carrying Japanese nationals in Pakistan's port city of Karachi on Friday, police said. The Japanese nationals escaped unharmed but officials later said one bystander was killed.
Initially, police said the van was heading to an industrial area where the five Japanese nationals worked when it came under attack, local police chief Arshad Awan said. Police escorting the Japanese returned fire, killing a second attacker, the bomber's accomplice, he said.
“All the Japanese who were the target of the attack are safe,” Awan added.
Police had initially said the five worked at Pakistan Suzuki Motors but later corrected that statement, saying it was another factory.
Images on local news channels showed a damaged van as police officers arrived at the scene. The three passersby who were wounded in the attack were taken to the hospital, where one later died. The two others were said to be in stable condition, The Associated Press said.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif denounced the attack in separate statements, praised police for their quick response and vowed to eliminate terrorism. They also offered prayers for the casualties.
The Foreign Ministry confirmed the Japanese nationals were unhurt and said it “strongly condemns this heinous act of terrorism. All necessary measures will be taken to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
“Pakistan remains committed to ensuring the safety of foreign nationals residing in the country," the ministry said.
The ministry said two Pakistani nationals were killed in Friday's attack, which contradicted the statements from police and hospital officials who said one of the three wounded died. The discrepancy could not immediately be reconciled.
The van was given a police escort following reports of possible attacks targeting foreigners working in Pakistan on various Chinese-funded and other projects, said Tariq Mastoi, a senior police officer. He said a timely and quick response from the guards and police foiled the attack and both attackers were killed.
No one immediately claimed responsibility, but suspicion is likely to fall on separatists or the Pakistani Taliban, who have stepped up attacks on security forces in recent years.
Insurgents have also targeted Chinese working in Pakistan on projects relating to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which includes a multitude of megaprojects such as road construction, power plants and agriculture.
In March, five Chinese and their Pakistani driver were killed when a suicide bomber in northwestern Pakistan rammed his explosive-laden car into a vehicle when they were heading to the Dasu Dam, the biggest hydropower project in Pakistan, where they worked.
Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, is the capital of southern Sindh province.
Separately, an Afghan Taliban religious scholar, Mohammad Omar Jan Akhundzada, was killed on Thursday by gunmen inside a mosque in Quetta, the capital of Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province, a local police officer Akram Ullah said.
No one claimed responsibility for that attack.
Many Afghan leaders and scholars lived in Quetta and elsewhere in Pakistan before the Afghan Taliban seized control of Afghanistan in mid-August 2021 as US and NATO forces withdrew. Most then went back and it was unclear why Akhundzada was still in Pakistan.



Taiwan Says China Drills More about Intimidation, Propaganda than Starting War

A man stands on a jetty behind a tourist boat and Chinese flags on Pingtan island, opposite Taiwan in China’s southeast Fujian province on Sunday. (AFP)
A man stands on a jetty behind a tourist boat and Chinese flags on Pingtan island, opposite Taiwan in China’s southeast Fujian province on Sunday. (AFP)
TT

Taiwan Says China Drills More about Intimidation, Propaganda than Starting War

A man stands on a jetty behind a tourist boat and Chinese flags on Pingtan island, opposite Taiwan in China’s southeast Fujian province on Sunday. (AFP)
A man stands on a jetty behind a tourist boat and Chinese flags on Pingtan island, opposite Taiwan in China’s southeast Fujian province on Sunday. (AFP)

China's military drills last week were more about propaganda and intimidation than starting a war, but Chinese forces did show how they could react quickly, Taiwan's top security official said on Wednesday.
China said it carried out the two days of war games starting Thursday as "punishment" for new President Lai Ching-te's inauguration speech last week, in which he said the two sides of the Taiwan Strait were "not subordinate to each other", which China viewed as a declaration the two are separate countries, Reuters said.
China views democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control. Lai rejects China's sovereignty claims, saying only Taiwan's people can decide their future, and has repeatedly offered talks with Beijing but been rebuffed.
Speaking to reporters at parliament, Taiwan National Security Bureau Director-General Tsai Ming-yen said the aim of China's drills was not to go to war.
"The purpose of the military exercises was to intimidate," he said.
The drills were meant to show an external and domestic audience that Beijing "has absolute control over the situation in the Taiwan Strait", Tsai added.
Speaking in Beijing, Zhu Fenglian, spokesperson for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, reiterated its list of complaints about Lai being a dangerous supporter of Taiwan's formal independence, and threatened continued Chinese military activity.
The drills were a "just action to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity", she said.
"As Taiwan's provocations for independence continue, the People's Liberation Army's actions to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity continue."
The government in Taipei says Taiwan is already an independent country, the Republic of China. The Republican government fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war with Mao Zedong's Communists who set up the People's Republic of China.
China says any decisions on Taiwan's future are for all of China's 1.4 billion people to make, not only Taiwan's 23 million, and has offered a Hong Kong-style "one country, two systems" autonomy model, though that has almost no public support on the island, according to opinion polls.
"Different systems are not an obstacle to reunification, let alone an excuse for separation," Zhu said.
China has never explained how it would integrate Taiwan's vibrant democracy and direct election of its leaders into any plan to govern the island.
China has in the past four years sent its military to areas around Taiwan on an almost daily basis, as it seeks to exert pressure on the island.
But China also appeared to be trying to keep the scope of these drills contained, Tsai's bureau said in a written report to lawmakers, noting there was no declaration of no-fly or no-sail zones and the exercises lasted only two days.
"The intention was to avoid the situation escalating and international intervention, but in the future it is feared (China) will continue its compound coercion against us, gradually changing the Taiwan Strait's status quo," it said.
Tsai added that Chinese forces mobilized almost as soon as China announced the drills early on Thursday.
"The speed was extremely fast, demonstrating rapid mobilization capabilities," he said.