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Pakistan suspends expeditions after tourist killings

Published Jun 24, 2013 02:20pm
Nanga Parbat, the ninth highest mountain in the world, is seen from Karakorum Highway.    — Photo by Reuters
Nanga Parbat, the ninth highest mountain in the world, is seen from Karakorum Highway. — Photo by Reuters

ISLAMABAD:Pakistan on Monday suspended expeditions on its second-highest peak, evacuating climbers from Nanga Parbat after 10 foreign tourists were shot dead by gunmen at a base camp.

Well-armed and well-prepared attackers dressed in police uniforms stormed the camp at the foot of Nanga Parbat late Saturday, shooting dead the climbers and a Pakistani guide at point-blank range, officials said.

The victims have been identified as an American with dual Chinese citizenship, three Ukrainians, two Slovakians, two others from China, a Lithuanian and a climber from Nepal.

It was an unprecedented attack on mountaineers drawn to the natural beauty and intrepid climbing of northern Pakistan, which until Saturday's shooting was considered immune from Taliban and Al Qaeda-linked violence plaguing other parts of the country.

“We are really shocked, traumatised and full of anger. Pakistan is known among the mountaineering community. It was a brutal massacre. These people were killed for no reason,” said Manzoor Hussain, president of the Alpine Club of Pakistan.

Around 40 remaining climbers on Nanga Parbat have been evacuated to the northern city of Gilgit with treks on the peak now unsafe, he told AFP.

“Local authorities have evacuated them. They have all been informed of this incident,” Hussain said.

“We are reviewing the overall security situation. The fallout apparently will be serious.”Hussain said there would be no further expeditions on Nanga Parbat this summer and that requests for winter climbs would be subject to a security review.

“This season is over for them,” Hussain said.

It is a major blow to foreign trekking expeditions, which provide the last vestige of international tourism in a country where Islamist militants have killed thousand of people in recent years.

The banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan militant organisation claimed responsibility for the shootings, saying they had set up a new faction, Junood-e-Hifsa, to kill foreigners to avenge US drone strikes on Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives.

Hussain said the attack was well-planned, carried out by well-equipped and well-trained people familiar with the harsh terrain, with suspected local involvement.

“It took place at 4,200 metres. It has to be the work of well-trained people. It takes two to three days to reach (the camp). The body needs to acclimatise for climbing up. How they went undetected is a big question.”Expeditions on other peaks in Pakistan higher than 8,000 metres, including K2 the world's second highest mountain, would continue as the army was in those areas, he said.

The bodies of the dead tourists were on Sunday flown to Islamabad from where they will be repatriated. Police said Monday that a massive search operation is under way to track down the suspects.

“The military, police, law enforcement agencies are all involved. The terrain is tough. Four helicopters are also combing the suspected areas,”police official Mohammed Naveed told AFP from the district of Diamer.

“This is the most peaceful area in Pakistan. Such an incident never happened before. We're also interrogating local people. The operation will continue until we achieve the objective,” he said.

Comments (20) Closed

Jun 24, 2013 02:43pm

Many questions remain seems better to leave them unanswered because the perception is that if the authorities do give answers they would be devoid of credibility.

Rashid Sultan
Jun 24, 2013 03:02pm

That's put paid to tourism for a while!

Jun 24, 2013 03:09pm

this is what someone or neighboring countries intend to do. try to get banned all those activities or at least make them so difficult to carry out that people should be disinterested in Pakistan. and PMLN is quite graciously carrying out foreign agenda without having an inkling in this respect and they are doing this day and night in the name of serving nation's best interest. Claps all around. PMLn quite an easy prey for other countries who have camouflaged and menacing agenda to destroy our country. PMLn is in a hurry to ruin its voter's mandate. When will this party and its so-called leaders will wake up.

Ramesh Khanal
Jun 24, 2013 03:19pm

Very sad news. It spreads bad impression of Pakistan to the world and is harmful for the development of tourism in Pakistan. The people of Pakistan, the government and all others should be serious about providing safe and peaceful environment for the tourists coming from around the world. It is a great threat to the maintaining rule and order in Pakistan. Such a negative news is often exaggerated in the Western world from where tourists are mostly expected to come.

Jun 24, 2013 04:14pm

And the government wants to talk to this cancer of TTP?

Jun 24, 2013 05:14pm

The mentally challenged TTP killed Russian and Chinese tourists to avenge drone strikes which are carried out by US. They do know that China and US aren't exactly buddies. An average girl walking on the streets has better sense than the entire TTP and its many factions.

dr vimal raina
Jun 24, 2013 06:19pm


Afzal Mir
Jun 24, 2013 06:38pm

I am sad and heartbroken. Families of victims need to know that we all in Pakistan are with them at this difficult hour.

Jun 24, 2013 07:18pm

How can they get automatic rifles in pakistan so easily?

Jun 24, 2013 07:37pm

I dont know what to write and how to protest. What is our government and Army doing. Every country when once they go through these terrorist attacks they make sure there is no second time like in India after Taj hotel attack. But in Pakistan lives are so cheap that no one is ever arrested and let alone punished.Take an example of the Sri Lankan team incident. No one has ever caught.Its the Army duties to protect its citizen from their enemies who are killing people in the name of Jihad. Since the enemies has entered the borders, now the battle field is within the country. Had they were quick in responding these enemies at the borders, things would have been different

Jun 24, 2013 08:19pm

hard to understand why

Jun 24, 2013 09:10pm

@Ramesh Khanal: bro, muslims (mosquitoes) are terrorist and looser, what u should except!

Satyaki Lahary
Jun 24, 2013 09:36pm

@ailly:Now don't tell me it is India that is doing all these dirty stuff.Pakistanis shouldn't blame India for all the evils in Pakistan.TTP is a disease,which Pakistan has to eradicate.

Jehan Zeb
Jun 24, 2013 09:41pm

It drives my absouletly nuts when officials of different sport bodies are trying best to bring foreigners to visit Pakistan. Do we have the capacity to provide them protection? No, we don't. When our GHQ is not immune from threats then what else proof required. Stop bringing more shame and insult to entire nation.

Jun 24, 2013 09:45pm

someone need to eradicate the group responsible for that. Killing innocent people with impunity should not go unpunished

Jun 24, 2013 10:01pm

and all that this hopeless caricature of a PM of Pakistan is to offer his condolences,suspend expeditions rather than providing security to the missions....and yea go on to hold talks with murderers and religious lunatics.! buy hey did'nt Pakistanis know that Nawaz sharif has not spine when they gave him one more chance to transfer our wealth into his overseas accounts.......shame on us.

Adnan Khan
Jun 24, 2013 11:08pm

God, drones or no drones, no one has ANY excuse to kill an innocent soul. The culprits should be brought before the families of the aggrieved and their life should be at the mercy of these families. They should be executed if the aggrieved families say so. The Holy Prophet of Islam would have done what I just said. A person who kills others for a crime that they did not commit is unjust and insane. No 'collateral' damage from a drone attack is justified. No military drone attack in a civilian population is justified. In this age of science, governments and people should refrain from solutions to problems that they would not like to be applied to their own families. The fact that you are armed does not give you the right to take the life of an innocent visitor or host. May God save us from greed & hatred. May God teach us to love what is good and correct what is wrong. May God teach us to love and take away the power from us to kill and destroy the innocent. May God make our governments wiser and more resolved on crimes against the innocent and May God give our people a system by which the rights & lives of the innocent is protected. My message to the rest of the world - these people are killing muslims and non-muslims alike, and those resisting them are muslims and non-muslims alike. Don't be misguided, this has nothing to do with Islam or religion. These criminals are anti-government renegades who have gone to the extreme of killing people for the sake of their beliefs and demands, and perhaps, their grievances has a role to play in all this. But no grievances can justify hatred, persecution or killing of others indiscriminately. The blood of these innocent tourists calls upon us to unite and extricate what is right from what is wrong. In these modern times, I think the only way to overcome this gun control issue and trigger happy devils is for every citizen on the face of this earth to be equipped with non lethal disarmament weapon,(more in the line of stealth sprays, or teasers, stun guns and tranquilizers). There should be men among us who should research on modern non lethal disarmament techniques, devices or drugs that can overcome this constant threat to civilians and innocent 'colaterals'. And this technology should be dispatched to all across the world. We need to be ahead of criminals in non-lethal disarmament technology. This technological research should also be so versatile that none predict its function except a random owner in the crowd.

Jun 24, 2013 11:35pm

@Ramesh Khanal: Perhaps you're right. All the inexcusable violence in Pakistan is simply an exaggeration on the part of the West.

My sympathies to the families for loved ones lost. Those who were killed like so many in Pakistan - for absolutely nothing.

Jun 25, 2013 01:23am

this incident marks the end of TOURISM for a while !!! what a blow to Pakistan, already suffering the menace of extremists !!!

Jun 27, 2013 04:07am

@Rahul: at many places between Besham and Chilas...

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