Sunday, 23 June 2013

Nine tourists shot in Gilgit Baltistan mountain base camp

Nine tourists shot in Gilgit Baltistan mountain base camp
Gunmen have killed 10 people, including nine foreign tourists after storming a hotel in far northern Pakistan.
Officials say five are from Ukraine, one from Russia and three from China. A Pakistani guide also died in the attack.
It happened at the base camp of Nanga Parbat, the world's ninth highest mountain, in Gilgit-Baltistan.
It is the first such attack on tourists in the region. The Pakistani Taliban has told the BBC it was responsible.
A spokesman for Tehrik-e-Taliban said the attack was in retaliation for the killing of its second-in-command, Waliur Rehman, who died in a suspected US drone strike in May.
Part of the Himalayan Range, Nanga Parbat, standing at 8,126m (26,660ft), is popular with trekkers and mountaineers, especially during June and July.
The assault is seen as a significant blow for Pakistan's already struggling tourist industry, the BBC's Shahzeb Jillani reports from Islamabad.
Gilgit-Baltistan forms part of the larger disputed Kashmir region, which has been the subject of conflict between India and Pakistan since both countries declared independence in 1947.
In recent years, the region has suffered a spate of attacks by militants targeting Pakistan's Shia Muslim minority.
'Very remote'
Police initially said 10 tourists had died. A Chinese tourist has survived the assault.
Up to 20 attackers, reportedly dressed in military uniforms, stormed the hotel at the base camp in the foothills of Nanga Parbat shortly after midnight.
"Unknown people entered a hotel where foreign tourists were staying last night and opened fire," Ali Sher, a senior police officer, told Reuters.
File photo of Nanga ParbatThe mountain is a popular tourist destination in June and July
The gunmen allegedly took the foreigners' money and passports before shooting them.
A senior official said the area, in Diamer district, had been sealed off and police were hunting for the killers.
"Since the area is very remote with no roads or transport, their bodies will have to be retrieved by helicopter," he said.
President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif have condemned the attack.
Mr Sharif, who was re-elected earlier this month, said "such acts of cruelty and inhumanity" would not be tolerated.
Meanwhile Gilgit governor Syed Mehdi Shah is set to hold a meeting with regional law enforcement agencies on Sunday to discuss the security situation in the area, Radio Pakistan reports.
"A lot of tourists come to this area in the summer, and our local people work to earn money from these people," he said.
"This will not only affect our area, but will adversely affect all of Pakistan."
Gilgit-Baltistan is famous for its natural beauty and the main city of Gilgit is seen as a gateway to the Karakoram and Himalayan mountain ranges.

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