Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Attack on Climbers Leaves 10 Dead in Pakistan

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Attack on Climbers Leaves 10 Dead in Pakistan

Article excerpt

The nine foreigners and one Pakistani were part of a mountaineering expedition in a remote part of the country. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

In one of the most brazen attacks on foreigners in Pakistan in years, unidentified gunmen killed nine foreign mountaineers and their Pakistani guide on Sunday as they prepared to ascend one of the world's most daunting peaks.

The dead foreigners included five Ukrainians and three Chinese, officials said. The nationality of the ninth climber was unclear.

The attack happened in Gilgit-Baltistan, a far-flung, beautiful and mountainous part of northern Pakistan where attacks on foreigners have been rare in recent years, although there has been sporadic sectarian violence.

A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault, which he said had been carried out in retaliation for U.S. drone strikes in the tribal belt.

The foreigners were part of a mountaineering expedition that planned to climb Nanga Parbat, which, at 8,126 meters, or 26,660 feet, is among the world's highest mountains and is the second- highest peak in Pakistan, after K2 in the Karakoram range.

Unidentified gunmen wearing police uniforms stormed into their camp about 1 a.m. Sunday and fired indiscriminately, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told Parliament on Sunday. The gunmen escaped after the attack.

The Taliban spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, said that the gunmen belonged to Jundul Hafsa, a Taliban affiliate, and that the attack had been a response to a U.S. drone attack that killed the Taliban deputy leader, Wali ur-Rehman, on May 29.

Mr. Ehsan added that the Taliban sought to "awaken" international opinion about the drone campaign, although it was unclear how attacks on Chinese and Ukrainian citizens were a response to a U.S. action -- except perhaps to put pressure on the newly installed government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

According to local residents interviewed by phone, the attack took place at a base camp on the Diamir side of Nanga Parbat, which has three faces: Diamir, Fairy Meadows and Rupal. …

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