At least nine tourists have been killed by gunmen on a Himalayan mountain early Sunday. The Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack.
The victims of the attack were mostly foreign tourists, attempting to climb Nanga Parbat, part of the Himalayan Mountains. It is the world’s ninth tallest peak.
Not all of the dead have been identified but reports from the BBC have said that most were tourists from China or the Ukraine.
One of those who died, however, has also been identified as Pakistani. Two other victims have been identified as Chinese-American and Nepali. One tourist from China is said to have survived the attack.
In a public statement the Pakistani Taliban have said that they were responsible for the attacks. Their spokesman explained that the assault was meant as retaliation for the death of Wailur Rehman
Rehman, formerly the group’s second-in-command, was believed to have died in a US drone attack in May.
The spokesman made clear that the militant group intended to target more tourists and foreigners in Pakistan as a way of sending the US a message about their predator drone campaigns.
Accounts of the assault say that as many as 20 paramilitary uniform-wearing militants stormed a hotel, located at the base of the Himalayan mountain. The attack began soon after midnight.
Storming the front office and binding Pakistani hotel staff, the militants located a group of foreign tourists. Before shooting them the gunmen took their victims’ money and identification.
The base camp where the shooting occurred, officials say, can take up to two days to reach, as it is accessible only by horseback or helicopter.
Travel in and out of the area has been restricted by law enforcement, who believe the attackers may still be making their escape from the base camp. A massive manhunt is presently underway.
The Gilgit-Baltistan area where at least nine tourists were killed early Sunday morning has usually been seen as one of the safest regions in Pakistan, but the new campaign by Taliban militants to target foreigners is quickly beginning to change this.
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