After alert over militants, Pakistan boosts security for Chinese workers

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 September, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 September, 2004, 12:00am

Pakistani authorities have bolstered security for Chinese nationals after intelligence reports indicated they may be targeted by Islamic militants.

The Daily Times reported that police protection of Chinese and their properties had been increased, after fighters belonging to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) entered Lahore and Rawalpindi, both in Punjab province.

The ETIM is a radical outfit founded by Uygurs, a Turkic-speaking majority in Xinjiang region who are fighting for the establishment of an independent state. The IMU groups Islamic militants from Uzbekistan and other Central Asian states.

According to the US State Department, both organisations have links with al-Qaeda.

The Times quoted a senior Pakistani official as saying 10 ETIM fighters had entered Pakistan.

There are only a few Chinese nationals officially living in Lahore, but ethnic Chinese have lived in Pakistan for several generations.

Many Pakistanis of Chinese origin migrated to Canada in the 1980s, but have since returned to run various businesses, such as restaurants and laundries, in several cities, including Islamabad.

In May, three Chinese engineers working on a port project were killed by a car bomb in Gwadar, located near the border with Iran.

It was the first time Chinese in Pakistan had been targeted by terrorists.

More than 400 Chinese engineers and construction workers are working on the US$250-million project, which is 80-per cent funded by the mainland.

In June, 11 Chinese construction workers were killed in Afghanistan in what was also described as a terrorist attack.

Last month, China and Pakistan held joint anti-terror military exercises in Xinjiang, which borders Afghanistan and Pakistan.