Taliban Gunmen Kill Climbers In Pakistan, Tourism Industry Reels

Taliban gunmen stormed a hotel at the base of Nanga Parbat on Sunday morning, killing 11 climbers. The incident is expected to put a damper on Pakisten's already struggling tourism industry.

The attack happened over the weekend at the base of Pakistan's second-tallest peak. Along with hurting the country's tourism industry, the attack also showed that Islamist militants are expanding their reach toward the most remote areas.

Local police stated that about a dozen gunmen wearing paramilitary uniforms stormed into the mountaineers' camp around 1 am local time on Sunday. All but one of those killed were foreigners part of an expedition.

A Taliban spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, stated that the gunmen responsible for the attack belong to a Taliban affiliate named Jundul Hafsa. The attack was apparently a response to an American drone attack that killed Wali ur-Rehman last month.

With the latest Taliban attack taking the lives of climbers at the world's ninth tallest peak, Pakistan's tourism industry is worried. Hotel owners, tour operators, and tourism officials have already seen climbers and others have already seen the impact.

Ghulam Nabi Raikoti, one of two brothers who run ski resort Raikot Serai, stated that a group of 50 Pakistani students already canceled their reservations at the resort. The shooting also forced the evacuation of the camps higher up on Nanga Parbat. The evacuations took place to allow authorities to search the mountain area for the suspects.

The attack was carefully planned out, as it takes two days hiking in order to reach the base camp where the climbers were killed in Pakistan. Manzoor Hussain, president of the alpine club, explained, "In that area it is difficult for someone to hide." Hussain added that the alpine club will not have any more expeditions up the mountain this summer.

The Pakistani military evacuated more than 30 tourists on Monday and flew them over to Islamabad while they continue to search for the gunmen who killed 11 climbers on Sunday.

[Image via Atif Gulzar]