MADRID: A Spanish around-the-world cyclist has released a gripping account of the moment he came under attack and was hit by shrapnel while crossing Pakistan.
Bearded cyclist Javier Colorado denied Pakistan's version that six police guards were killed when militants opened fire on him on January 22 in the volatile southwestern province of Balochistan.
“The deplorable deaths of the six officers had nothing to do with the events in which I was a victim,” Colorado said in his version of the attack, released at the end of January on his Facebook account and blog along with a video on YouTube.
The cyclist, a 27-year-old from Madrid according to Spanish media, said the six police actually died in a separate attack the previous day, in which a bomb killed 24 Shia Muslim pilgrims on a bus travelling nearby on the same road.
Colorado said police were driving him with his belongings, including his bicycle, in a covered pickup van when he saw the bus explosion.
In a video released on his YouTube account, a huge ball of flame can be seen erupting in the distance behind the police van.
Apparently frightened and breathless, the Spanish cyclist can be seen crouching for cover by a stone wall near the police van as the sound of gunfire crackles nearby.
After spending the night in a nearby police station, his journey continues in a van with a driver and armed police guard.
Soon after, the video shows Colorado lying on the floor of the police vehicle saying: “They shot at us, they shot at us. I am bleeding.”
Apparently hit by shrapnel from a grenade, Colorado said he was treated for a light injury at a nearby clinic and then at a military hospital in Quetta.
Colorado said he had to cross Pakistan by road after missing a once-a-month train when he arrived late at the border after a journey through Iran.
Pakistani police advised him that taking a bus was too dangerous, and instead officers took him and his bicycle in police vehicles.
Pakistani officials told AFP last month that a Spanish cyclist had been attacked by gunmen as he entered Pakistan from Iran.
The officials said six local tribal police officials were killed and five wounded in an ensuing exchange of gunfire, in which one militant was also killed.