By Aamir Latif
At least seven people were killed in an armed attack on the Chinese Consulate in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi on Friday morning, a police official said.
Ameer Shaikh, Karachi police chief, told reporters that two policemen and three attackers were killed and a suicide jacket was recovered in a security operation.
Two civilians -- a father and son -- were also killed in the attack, he said, adding that they were at the consulate for their visa application.
“The security operation has been completed, and the Chinese consul general and all staff of the mission are safe and sound,” Shaikh said.
Earlier, local broadcaster Geo News quoting eyewitnesses reported that three to four armed assailants stormed the heavily-guarded consulate, sparking response from police and security guards.
Pakistan army also confirmed that three militants were killed and said the situation is under control.
“Terrorists attempted to enter Chinese consulate. Rangers and police have got control. Three terrorists killed. All Chinese safe. Situation under control,” the army said in a brief statement.
Balochistan Liberation Army, a separatist militant group, claimed responsibility of the attack, local media reported.
Condemning the attack, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan ordered a complete inquiry into the incident.
In a statement, Khan said the incident was part of a conspiracy against economic and strategic cooperation between Pakistan and China.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi also condemned the attack and appreciated the timely action of security forces to foil it.
"The elements who are always busy in conspiring to damage Pakistan-China friendship are behind such terrorist attacks but we will never let them to succeed in their evils designs," Qureshi told reporters outside the parliament in Islamabad.
He said his country is well aware of “conspiracies” against the multi-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.
CPEC, a $64-billion megaproject signed in 2014, aims to connect China's strategically important northwestern Xinjiang province to Pakistan’s Gwadar Port through a network of roads, railways and pipelines to transport cargo, oil and gas.
The project has faced resistance by militants in southwestern Balochistan province who claim the government has neglected their interests.
* Islamuddin Sajid in Islamabad contributed to this news story.