China ready to probe preaching charges against two nationals killed in Pakistan

Beijing: China on Wednesday said it is intensifying efforts to establish the veracity of reports over the killing of two of its nationals by the Islamic State in Pakistan and offered to cooperate in investigating their alleged illegal preaching activities in the country.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his wife Kalsoom Nawaz Sharif pose with Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan in Beijing, China (representational image). Reuters

Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his wife Kalsoom Nawaz Sharif pose with Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan in Beijing(representational image). Reuters

"I should stress that on the possible killing of the two Chinese nationals, we express high concern. But so far, Pakistan has not confirmed the information to China," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told media briefing in Beijing.

"We are intensifying the efforts to verify the relevant information," he said.

The ministry's response came after China's official media on Tuesday accused South Korean Christian groups and intelligence agencies of recruiting young Chinese and sending them for proselytising in Muslim countries.

China has yet not released details whether the two slain Chinese nationals were associated with South Korean church groups.

Chinese foreign ministry on 9 June said Beijing was informed by Pakistan officials that a Chinese man and a woman identified as Lee Zingyang, 24, and Meng Lisi, 26, who were kidnapped last month from Quetta may have been killed.

The video of their killing emerged on the eve of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Astana which was attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Subsequently, Pakistan interior ministry said the two Chinese nationals were involved in "preaching" in the country along with a Korean group.

Reports from Pakistan said the two were killed by Islamic State group after being abducted by gunmen dressed as policemen in Quetta in restive Balochistan province last month.

About the allegations that they were preachers, Lu said, "We always require the Chinese citizens to abide by local laws and regulations while travelling and living in foreign countries, respect the customs of the local people and stay alert to protect their safety and security."

"On the information of possible preaching by the two people we will cooperate with Pakistan to investigate for further information," he said.

Pakistan has been grappling with Islamist and nationalist insurgencies in Balochistan since 2004, with hundreds of soldiers and militants killed in the fighting.

ISIS has been making inroads in Pakistan with the help of its ties with local militant outfits like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jamaat-ul-Ahrar. However, the government has largely downplayed the presence of the dreaded terror outfit.

Updated Date: Jun 14, 2017 17:17 PM

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