5 Japanese Nationals Narrowly Survive Karachi Suicide Attack, Police Say

ISLAMABAD — Police in Pakistan’s port city of Karachi said Friday two suicide bombers attacked a van carrying five Japanese autoworkers, but they all escaped unhurt.

A senior police officer told reporters that the autoworkers were being driven to an industrial zone in Pakistan’s commercial capital early in the morning when their bulletproof vehicle was targeted.

“One terrorist came close to the van and blew himself while another fired at it,” said Azfar Mahesar, an area deputy inspector general of Karachi police, citing initial investigations into the early morning violence. He added that two security guards escorting the Japanese workers returned fire and killed the bomber’s accomplice.

Mahesar said that police had also recovered the suicide bomber’s remains from the scene of the attack and an investigation was under way to establish the identities of both assailants.

A subsequent police statement said, “All foreign guests are safe. Thank God.” The attack injured one of the guards and reportedly several bystanders.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif denounced the attack and prayed for the speedy recovery of those wounded in it, his office said in a statement in Islamabad.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack in Karachi, the country’s largest city and the capital of southern Sindh province.

The violence came a day after militants ambushed and killed six customs officers in the turbulent Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Officials said Thursday that a team from the Directorate of Intelligence and Investigation Customs was conducting an “intelligence-based” operation in the militancy-hit Dera Ismail Khan district when their vehicle came under attack.

The shooting resulted in the deaths of customs officers who were working to counter militant networks smuggling weapons into the district and surrounding areas of the province, which borders Afghanistan.

Last month, a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-packed car into a convoy of Chinese engineers and workers in the province’s Kohistan district. The attack killed five Chinese nationals and their Pakistani driver.

The foreigners were working on the Chinese-funded multibillion-dollar Dasu Dam on the Indus River, Pakistan’s biggest hydropower project.

Islamabad says that fugitive leaders and fighters of anti-Pakistan militant groups have found refuge in Afghanistan and intensified cross-border attacks since the Islamist Taliban regained control of the neighboring country.

The Taliban deny the allegations, claiming they are not allowing anyone to use Afghan soil to threaten neighboring countries, including Pakistan. 

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