Wednesday, February 21, 2018
News Roundup

10 foreign tourists, local guide killed in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Islamic militants disguised as policemen killed 10 foreign climbers and a Pakistani guide in a brazen overnight raid against their campsite in northern Pakistan, officials said Sunday.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack at the base camp of one of the world's tallest mountains, Nanga Parbat, saying it was to avenge the death of their deputy leader in a U.S. drone strike last month.

The 10 foreigners were three Ukrainians, two Slovakians, two Chinese, one Lithuanian, one Nepalese and one Chinese-American, according to government officials and tour operators who were working with the climbers.

The attack took place in an area that has largely been peaceful, hundreds of miles from the Taliban's major sanctuaries along the Afghan border. But the militant group has shown it has the ability to strike almost anywhere in the country.

The Pakistani Taliban began its attack by abducting two local guides to take them to the remote base camp in Gilgit-Baltisan, said Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. One of the guides was killed in the shooting, and the other has been detained for questioning. The attackers disguised themselves by wearing uniforms used by the Gilgit Scouts, a paramilitary force that patrols the area, Khan said.

About 15 gunmen attacked the camp around 11 p.m. Saturday, said the Alpine Club of Pakistan, which spoke with a local guide, Sawal Faqir, who survived the shooting. The gunmen began by beating the mountaineers and taking away any phones they could find, as well as everyone's money, said the club in a statement.

Some climbers and guides were able to run away, but those that weren't were fatally shot, the club said. Faqir was able to hide a satellite phone and eventually used it to notify authorities of the attack.

Matt Boland, the acting spokesman at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, confirmed that an American citizen was among the dead but could not say whether the person was a dual Chinese national.

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the Jundul Hafsa faction carried out the shooting as retaliation for the death of Taliban deputy leader Waliur Rehman in a U.S. drone attack on May 29.

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