Pakistani Police detain 47 men for questioning over murders of Chinese

Police investigating the shooting deaths of three Chinese engineers and their local driver in southwestern Pakistan detained 47 men Thursday in pre-dawn raids in villages surrounding the crime scene, an official said.

The killings and arrests came days ahead of an official visit by President Gen. Pervez Musharraf to China, where the government immediately demanded Pakistan catch the murderers and ensure the safety of Chinese working in Pakistan.

However, local police chief Pervez Zahoor said they had no direct evidence linking any of the 47 suspects with Wednesday's shootings.

Two men on a motorbike sprayed the four victims with gunfire as they traveled from the cement plant where they worked in Hub, a town southeast of Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan, a province wracked by violence blamed on tribal militants.

The militant Baluchistan Liberation Army claimed responsibility for the killings. The army says it is fighting against Pakistan's government for increased royalties for native Baluch people for natural gas extracted from the desert region.

President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz condemned the killings and offered condolences to their Chinese counterparts.

In a message to President Hu Jintao, Musharraf called it a "dastardly terrorist attack" and promised to track down the perpetrators and provide security for other Chinese in Pakistan, reports the AP.

I.L.