The Chinese embassy in Pakistan has confirmed that Chinese nationals had become "casualties" in an attack in the country.
Agencies reported that at least 13 people were killed when a blast targeted a bus carrying workers to a hydro-electric power project site in Upper Kohistan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province early on Wednesday.
AFP reported nine of the fatalities were Chinese workers. The bus was carrying Chinese engineers, surveyors and mechanical staff to the Dasu dam project site in Upper Kohistan.
AFP reported 28 Chinese nationals were injured in the incident. "The bus plunged into a deep ravine after the blast and caused heavy losses. One Chinese engineer and one soldier are missing. The rescue operation is launched and the entire government machinery has been mobilised to rescue the injured by air ambulance," Reuters quoted a government official as saying.
Inspector General Moazzam Jah Ansari told Reuters the incident appeared to be an act of sabotage. It is yet unclear whether the blast was a result of an improvised explosive device hidden on the road or placed on the vehicle.
After the incident, the Chinese embassy urged its nationals and enterprises in Pakistan to "stay highly alert and avoid going out unless necessary" Global Times reported.
The Dasu dam project is one of the multiple infrastructure projects being built as part of the $65 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). CPEC is a vital part of China's Belt and Road Initiative as it links China to the Arabian Sea via Pakistan's Gwadar port.
According to the World Bank, the Dasu dam project is a key infrastructure initiative on the Indus river. It aims to install a "a 2,160MW hydropower plant on the main Indus river, which can be expanded to 4,320MW in future at very low cost", according to the World Bank.
A Chinese company was awarded the contract to assist in building the Dasu dam in 2017; at the time, the cost of the first phase of the Dasu project was estimated at $4.2 billion.