A bus exploded in Pakistan on 14 July 2021, killing 13 people, including nine Chinese citizens. The explosion took place in the Dasu area of the Upper Kohistan district of the restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Here, the Chinese engineers and construction workers are helping Pakistan build a dam, which is part of the USD 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
While reporting the incident, Indian media outlets showed two photos of Chinese men carrying AK-47 rifles and claimed that they are keeping weapons to protect themselves.
India Today reported, "After the attack on a bus carrying Chinese engineers in Pakistan, photographs have emerged showing Chinese workers going around with AK-47 rifles".
ABP Live reported, "The use of AK-47s by the Chinese nationals raises doubts about the efficacy of two Special Security Divisions (SSDs) in Pakistan to protect Chinese workers and assets in the country".
Zee News report in English reads, "Many Chinese citizens were killed in the bus blast in Pakistan. After this attack, Chinese engineers are so scared that they are working with weapons. Many pictures have gone viral on social media, in which Chinese workers posted in Pakistan are seen carrying deadly weapons like AK-47".
Aaj Tak report in English reads, "Photos of the site of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) are making headlines on social media these days. The Chinese workers working here are deployed with AK-47, not just their tools."
The same two pictures were carried by various other English as well as Hindi media outlets such as Republic World, India TV, Wionews, News18, Navbharat Times, TV9, Live Hindustan, One India, News Nation, Asianet News and Swarajya.
One thing common in all the reports was that almost all the media outlets mentioned that the two pictures are viral on social media and credited the images to social media handles instead of a credible news agency or photojournalist.
The Chinese men are carrying AK-47 to protect themselves after the recent bus explosion in Pakistan.
Using the TOR browser to utilise the reverse image functionality on Baidu, we found a 2018 blog that uploaded the same picture. A website interviewed the man doing the survey. He said that he captured the photo in 2006 in Pakistan.
Using the Google reverse image tool, we found a fact-check by the defence.pk rejecting the claims viral in Indian media. Their report read, "Indian media lies again and busted- Chinese workers in Pakistan seen carrying AK-47 rifles".
The report mentioned a blog of May 2020 from the African continent. Chinese professionals were stationed there to receive training. Several photos of them are uploaded on the blog.
Therefore, old and irrelevant photos were shared by several Indian media outlets with a false claim. We could not find any credible reports substantiating the viral news.
Pakistan's information minister said the blast could be a terror attack as traces of explosives were found in the bus. Chinese public security minister said China and Pakistan would work together to probe the authenticity of the incident. Special investigative teams of China and Pakistan are working together to investigate the explosion.
Alt News has already done a fact check on this claim.
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