Taliban militants shot dead three security officials investigating the recent massacre of foreign mountaineers in the Gilgit-Baltistan region early Tuesday.
The new Jandul Hafsa faction of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack. The same group had claimed credit for the killing of 10 foreign trekkers and their Pakistani guide in a base camp of Nanga Parbat, the 9th tallest peak of the world, on June 23.
Militants ambushed a vehicle in Chilas district, killing Superintendent Police Hilal Ahmed, Colonel Ghulam Mustafa and Captain Ashfaq Aziz. Col Mustafa was said to be responsible for internal security in Chilas, the town that shares border with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s Kohistan district.
A security official confirmed that the slain officials were investigating the June 23 killing of foreign climbers.
DIG Ali Sher also confirmed the casualties. “The officials were returning to the rest house from the house of the deputy commissioner when they were ambushed by armed men,” he told The Express Tribune. Police cordoned off the area immediately and launched a manhunt for the killers.
Investigators said SP Hilal was driving the vehicle when it was ambushed. He died on the spot while Col Mustafa and Captain Aziz died from their wounds later at the state-run hospital in Chilas.
“This is an act of terrorism,” DIG Sher Ali said, adding that it was too early to speculate who could be behind the attack. G-B’s Information Minister Muhammad Ismail said the government was looking at the incident from different angles. “We shouldn’t jump to the conclusion without any evidence,” he said.
Chief Minister Mehdi Shah paid tribute to the slain officials and assured that the killers would be brought to justice. Bodies of the slain officials were airlifted to Islamabad.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2013.