Pakistani soldiers stand guard at the site where a Chinese couple was kidnapped in Quetta on May 24, 2017. The Islamic State group reportedly murdered the two Chinese nationals. Pakistan accused the murdered pair of preaching Christianity. (Photo by Banaras Khan/AFP)
South Korea has rejected an assertion by Pakistan that two Chinese nationals kidnapped and killed by the Islamic State group in Balochistan were preaching Christianity under the guise of studying Urdu at a school run by a South Korean.
A South Korean official in Seoul told the Hindustan Times there was no evidence to show the two were involved in proselytization under the guidance of a South Korean.
China has said it will cooperate with Pakistan to verify whether its citizens were involved in illegal preaching activities.
The recent murders of Lee Zingyang, 24, and Meng Lisi, 26, have raised questions about the security of Chinese workers in Pakistan, central to Beijing's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative.
The centerpiece of the new Silk Road plan, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, passes through insurgency-hit Balochistan.
After the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the killings, Pakistan's Interior Ministry said the two Chinese nationals were "actually engaged in preaching" after they went to Quetta "under the garb of learning (the) Urdu language from a Korean national."
The kidnapped pair was part of a group of 12 Chinese nationals brought to Quetta in November by a South Korean who runs a school and language education "was merely a front for conducting religious activities," the Shanghaiist website quoted the Global Times as saying.
An official from South Korea's foreign ministry rejected these allegations.
"With regard to the two Chinese confirmed to have been killed by the Islamic State, nothing has so far been found to verify the suspicion that they were involved with a Korean missionary group," the official said.
The comments from Seoul deepen the mystery behind the abduction and deaths of the two Chinese.