Chinese die as Taliban attacks in Pakistan

2013-06-23 23:41:06 GMT2013-06-24 07:41:06(Beijing Time)  Shanghai Daily

Islamic militants wearing police uniforms shot to death nine foreign tourists and one Pakistani before dawn yesterday as they were visiting one of the world's highest mountains in a remote area of northern Pakistan that has been largely peaceful.

The foreigners who were killed were five Ukrainians, two Chinese, one American of Chinese origin and one Nepali, said Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. One Chinese tourist was wounded in the attack and was rescued, he said.

The local branch of the Taliban took responsibility for the killings, saying it was to avenge the death of a leader killed in a recent US drone strike.

The attack took place at the base camp of Nanga Parbat, the ninth highest mountain in the world at 8,126 meters.

The gunmen were wearing uniforms used by the Gilgit Scouts, a paramilitary police force that patrols the area, the interior minister said. The attackers abducted two local guides to find their way to the remote base camp in Gilgit-Baltistan. One of the guides was killed in the shooting. The other has been detained and is being questioned, said Khan.

"The purpose of this attack was to give a message to the world that Pakistan is unsafe for travel," said Khan in a speech in the National Assembly, which passed a resolution condemning the incident. "The government will take all measures to ensure the safety of foreign tourists."

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

"By killing foreigners, we wanted to give a message to the world to play their role in bringing an end to the drone attacks," Ahsan said.

The attackers beat up the Pakistanis who were accompanying the tourists, took their money and tied them up, said a senior local government official. They checked the identities of the Pakistanis and shot to death one of them, possibly because he was a minority Shiite Muslim, the official said.

The attackers took money and passports from the foreigners and then gunned them down, said the official. It's unclear how the Chinese tourist who was rescued managed to avoid being killed.

The Pakistani government condemned the "brutal act of terrorism."

"Those who have committed this heinous crime seem to be attempting to disrupt the growing relations of Pakistan with China and other friendly countries," said the statement issued by the foreign ministry.

Pakistani officials have reached out to representatives from China and Ukraine to convey their sympathies, the ministry said.

China yesterday strongly condemned the killing of its nationals. Its foreign ministry and the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan have launched an emergency response to deal with the issue, Xinhua news agency reported.

Syed Mehdi Shah, chief minister of Gilgit-Baltistan, said the area had been cordoned off and soldiers were searching the area.

Editor: Yu Runze
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