(CNN) — The trail of blood outside the warehouse door was the only immediate sign that a murder had taken place.
But CCTV footage seized by police, and seen by CNN, revealed a brutal afternoon of carnage.
But the trio did not want to do business.
Over the next 17 minutes, the CCTV footage shows, they beat two men and one woman to death in the courtyard, before dragging their bodies into the adjoining warehouse.
Before fleeing, the attackers raided the property for valuables. A blood-stained machete was found by police.
The gruesome murder of 52-year-old Cao Guifang, the wife of the textile warehouse owner — who was in their home province of Jiangsu, in eastern China, when the attack happened — and her two male employees, Bao Junbin, 58, and Fan Minjie, 33, came at the end of a week when anti-Chinese sentiment in the Zambian capital was nearing boiling point.
There are an estimated 22,000 Chinese nationals living in Zambia, operating 280 companies, mostly spread between Lusaka and the copperbelt in the north. Beijing owns about 44% of Zambia’s debt, which has led to fear among some Zambians that China has too much control over the country.
While police have not directly linked the murder to anti-Chinese sentiment, the crime came as a reminder of the violent outbursts some Chinese have faced while living in Zambia, a key partner for China along its coveted Belt and Road project.