ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A powerful explosion apparently from a suicide bomber struck the parking lot of a luxury hotel in southwest Pakistan frequented by high-level guests on Wednesday, and officials said at least four people had been killed and 12 wounded. China’s ambassador to Pakistan may have missed the blast by mere minutes.
The ambassador, Nong Rong, was leading a Chinese delegation that had been visiting the area and staying at the hotel, the Serena, in Quetta, capital of Baluchistan province.
“The Chinese were staying at Serena Hotel but they were not present at the hotel at the time of the attack,” Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Pakistan’s interior minister, told local news media.
The Chinese delegation was safe and all casualties were of Pakistani nationals, officials said. Two senior civilian officials were among the wounded.
an important ally of Pakistan and has undertaken several infrastructure projects along with a deep seaport in Baluchistan province.
An intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss security matters, said the Chinese ambassador had attended a dinner with senior Pakistani army officials and was en route back to the hotel and was only minutes away when the blast occurred.
There was no immediate official confirmation that the attack had been carried out by a suicide bomber, as claimed by the TTP. Officials said the initial investigation suggested that explosives had been inside a vehicle that exploded in the parking lot.
The blast was heard at a long distance and heavily damaged more than a dozen vehicles in the parking lot of the luxury hotel. It is in a heavily guarded neighborhood with many important government buildings.
president of Vizier Consulting, a New York-based political risk advisory company. “But if the group is indeed responsible, the attack reflects a strengthening of its capability to strike high-security urban targets in Pakistan.”
He also observed that the TTP’s claim of responsibility did not specifically refer to Chinese nationals or interests, so it was possible “that the attackers were actually unaware of their presence.”