By Aamir Latif
KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) - Gunmen shot and injured two Chinese nationals in southern port city of Karachi on Monday, according to police and local media reports.
The latest incident appears to be part of a spate of attacks on Chinese in Pakistan.
The injured Chinese were said to be involved in the $62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.
The two were targeted in a posh street of the country’s commercial capital, Azad Khan, a senior police official, told reporters adding that one of the injured was said to be in critical condition.
Khan said the Chinese in Pakistan had been provided with adequate security; however, in this particular instance, the injured were travelling without their security guards at the time of attack.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
The CPEC, which is part of Beijing’s most ambitious foreign economic initiative -- One Belt One Road -- will connect northwest China to Pakistan's southwestern Gwadar port through a network of roads, railways and pipelines to transport cargo, oil and gas.
This will provide the shortest route to Chinese cargo destined for the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa.
While the investment is expected to benefit Pakistan and China, one of the most serious barriers to the completion of the 2,000-kilometer (1,243-mile) corridor is Pakistan's significant security issues.
In the past Chinese workers have been attacked, killed and kidnapped in southwestern and northwestern Pakistan, including in the area of the port in Gawadar, by Baloch separatists and Taliban militants.
Currently, some 10,000 Chinese are working on several CPEC-related projects in Pakistan.
The separatists, buoyed by local political opposition to Chinese investment in the mineral-rich Balochistan province, claim Islamabad is stealing their resources with the help of China.
Sensing the security concerns, the Pakistani army has created a 10,000-strong force to provide protection to hundreds of Chinese workers, technicians and experts associated with the economic corridor projects.
Beijing is Islamabad’s largest trade and defense partner with a trade volume between the countries $16 billion, while the two sides plan to enhance the current volume up to $20 billion amid execution of CPEC.