One Chinese national has been found alive following Thursday’s attack in Kabul that left at least four people killed and two missing, State media reported on Sunday.
Officials on Sunday described a daring escape by the Chinese national, who threw himself out of a car, being driven by his armed Afghan captors, before finding help from nearby U.S. troops.
Three Chinese nationals, including two women, were killed in an attack on Thursday in a central Kabul apartment. Two other men had been reported missing, presumed to have been taken captive by the armed attackers.
Officials said on Sunday the five Chinese were self-employed business people. One Afghan national, said to be their security guard, was also reported killed.
It is as yet uncertain whether the Chinese businessmen were specifically targeted by their attackers. The official Xinhua news agency on Sunday said it remained unclear “if this attack was purposefully targeting Chinese nationals”.
However, officials had earlier been quoted as saying they had believed that the attack had been aimed at Chinese citizens, though they had not suggested any specific motive.
The two women, according to the Embassy in Kabul, were killed “accidentally when they stopped by the apartment and met the criminals inside”.
The Chinese government has called on the Afghan government “to take all practical and necessary measures to arrest the perpetrators and ensure the security of Chinese citizens and institutions in Afghanistan”.
China has in recent years stepped up its investments in infrastructure projects in the war-torn nation, most notably signing a $ 3 billion mining deal for developing the Aynak copper mine.
In the lead-up to the expected NATO pull-out in 2014, China has stepped up its diplomacy by reaching out to countries in the region to coordinate their efforts to attempt to ensure stability in the country.
Since April, China has held trilateral talks with Russia and India, followed by talks with Russia and Pakistan, although it remains unclear if the numerous consultations have yielded any significant outcomes.
While China has been cautious at expanding its presence in the country beyond its involvement in infrastructure projects, last year Beijing agreed to train 300 Afghan police officers. The agreement was signed when former Politburo Standing Committee member and security chief Zhou Yongkang visited Kabul in what was the first visit by a top Chinese official to the country in 50 years.
Beijing’s primary concern is protecting its sizeable investments — according to State media, an estimated $ 600 million worth of projects are under contract while direct investment exceeded $ 200 million as of 2012. China is also concerned that instability may spill over into its western Xinjiang region, with Chinese security officials and analysts voicing fears that Afghan-based outfits could provide support to separatist Uighur groups in Xinjiang.