Nanga Parbat: Gunmen kill 9 foreign tourists and two Pakistanis
DAYAMAR: Gunmen killed 11 people including nine foreign tourists and two Pakistanis at Nanga Parbat tourist’s Base camp near Bunar Nullah in Gilgit-Baltistan.
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility of the attack which has been strongly denounced by Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari.
Those killed include tourists from China, Ukraine and Russia. However, identities of the dead were yet to be ascertained.
Geo News Islamabad Bureau Chief reported that the men, who attacked and executed foreign tourists and a Pakistani attendant, were wearing Gilgit Scouts uniforms. Had security been provided by setting up one checkpoint on the only road leading to the base camp this unfortunate incident could have been avoided.
Gilgit D.I.G. Ali Sher said that the incident occurred on Saturday night at around 1.00 A.M. at Fairy Meadows in Dayamar area, where unknown armed assailants killed nine foreign tourists camped at the Nanga Prabat Base Camp. The bodies were shifted to Chilas DHQ Hospital.
AFP adds: Gunmen dressed as paramilitary police killed nine Chinese and Ukrainian tourists in an unprecedented attack in the Pakistani Himalayas claimed by the Taliban, who said they had set up a new faction to target foreigners in revenge for US drone strikes.
The attackers struck late Saturday at the foot of one of the world’s highest mountains, killing climbers at a base camp in the far-flung north not previously associated with violence.
The deaths call into question the future of foreign mountaineering and trekking expeditions, which provide the last vestige of international tourism in a country on the frontline of Al-Qaeda and Taliban violence.
Officials on Sunday said one Pakistani was also killed while one Chinese national survived the attack.
The climbers were staying at a base camp for Nanga Parbat, which at 8,126 metres (26,660 feet) is the second highest mountain in Pakistan and the ninth highest in the world.
The base camp is at Fairy Meadows in the Diamer district of Gilgit-Baltistan, which borders China and Kashmir.
“The incident took place around 10:00 pm (Saturday, 1700 GMT). They were mountaineers,” Diamer police official Mohammed Naveed told AFP.
“Gunmen came and opened fire on them. It is confirmed that they have been killed,” he said.
Six Ukrainians and three Chinese were among the dead, Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar said. Ukraine’s ambassador to Pakistan Vladimir Lakomov earlier told AFP that five Ukrainians were killed.
The Himalayas in northern Pakistan offer some of the most spectacular climbing in the world. Its peaks are a magnet for experienced mountaineers, often from Europe.
Nisar said the attackers were dressed as Gilgit Scouts, a paramilitary police unit.
“They abducted two guides and through them reached the area. One guide was killed in the shootout. One is alive. He is now detained and being questioned,” he said.
Pakistan condemned the attack, but the killings will raise serious questions about security failures and embarrass a country already suffering from a dismal image abroad.
The interior minister conceded there was no security escort for foreigners in that area of the mountains.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned “these inhuman and cruel acts”, ordered a thorough investigation and called for the culprits to be brought to justice, the government said.
Officials also spoke to the Chinese and Ukrainian ambassadors to express their condolences, the foreign ministry added.
“Those who have committed this heinous crime seem to be attempting to disrupt the growing relations of Pakistan with China and other friendly countries,” it said.