Islamabad, Jul 24 (PTI) Pakistan on Saturday acknowledged that a recent incident involving the death of nine Chinese nationals in a bus explosion in restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province was a terrorist attack, retracting from its earlier stand that the blast was caused due to technical problems.

The two sides agreed in a joint press release that it was a terrorist attack.

The press release was issued at the conclusion of the third session of the Pakistan-China Foreign Ministers' Strategic Dialogue held in Chengdu, provincial capital of Sichuan in southwest China.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Friday reached China on a two-day visit to discuss various issues and restore confidence in the wake of the killing of the Chinese nationals.

At least 13 people, including nine Chinese, were killed when the bus carrying Chinese engineers and workers to the site of the under-construction Dasu Dam exploded on July 14. The bus fell into a deep ravine after the explosion in the Upper Kohistan district.

Pakistan had initially said that the accident was caused due to technical problems and later an explosion occurred due to gas leakage, while China has from the beginning called it a terrorist attack due to which the vehicle fell down. Beijing also sent a 15-member team of experts to Pakistan to probe the incident.

“Both sides vehemently condemned the terrorist attack in Dasu which caused loss of precious lives and injuries to the Pakistani and Chinese workers,” the release said.

It said that “both sides expressed their firm resolve to expose the culprits and their reprehensible designs through the ongoing joint investigation, give exemplary punishment to the perpetrators, ensure comprehensive safety and security of the Chinese projects, nationals and institutions, and prevent recurrence of such incidents.”

The Pakistani side, while offering condolences, also promised to ensure medical treatment, care and comfort to the injured.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid this week said that Pakistan has completed the probe and the Chinese are satisfied with it. But he didn't share details about the nature of the bus incident.

For Pakistan, ties with China are crucial due to its increasing economic dependence on Beijing. This year, the two nations are celebrating the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations and more than 100 celebratory events have been planned of which over 60 events have already been held so far.

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