At least 12 persons, including nine Chinese engineers and two Frontier Corps personnel, died and several others were injured on Wednesday in a bus “attack” near the Dasu hydropower plant in the Upper Kohistan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Initial reports from officials on what caused the deaths appeared conflicting; however, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan, speaking on the floor of the National Assembly, termed it a “cowardly attack” and said that it would “not divert attention from the special initiatives between Pakistan and its neighbours”.
Condemning the attack, Awan said that he will ask Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed to give a briefing on the country’s security situation and take this house into confidence regarding the incident.
Hours later, the Foreign Office contradicted reports of an attack, saying that the bus “plunged into a ravine after a mechanical failure resulting in leakage of gas that caused a blast”. The FO also put the death toll at 12, including 9 Chinese nationals, up from earlier reports of 10 deaths.
The Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, however, condemned the incident as a “bombing”.
Special Assistant to the KP Chief Minister on Information Kamran Khan Bangash had earlier said a high level delegation has left for Upper Kohistan, adding that officials will shortly inform the people and the media of the ground realities. “The media is advised to avoid speculating on the matter,” he said.
Bangash said a large number of security officials were deployed to protect Chinese nationals. Those who are in critical condition are being shifted via helicopter, he said. A large number of Rescue 1122 ambulances and officials have reached the spot, he added.