Pakistan suspends expeditions after tourist massacre

By AFP
Published: June 24, 2013
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Rescuers shift a coffin of a foreign tourist from an ambulance to a hospital in Islamabad on June 23, 2013. PHOTO: AFP

Rescuers shift a coffin of a foreign tourist from an ambulance to a hospital in Islamabad on June 23, 2013. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Monday suspended expeditions on its second-highest peak, evacuating climbers from Nanga Parbat after 10 foreign tourists were shot dead by gunmen at a base camp.

Well-armed and well-prepared attackers dressed in police uniforms stormed the camp at the foot of Nanga Parbat late Saturday, shooting dead the climbers and a Pakistani guide at point-blank range, officials said.

The victims have been identified as an American with dual Chinese citizenship, three Ukrainians, two Slovakians, two others from China, a Lithuanian and a climber from Nepal.

It was an unprecedented attack on mountaineers drawn to the natural beauty and intrepid climbing of northern Pakistan, which until Saturday’s shooting was considered immune from Taliban and al Qaeda-linked violence plaguing other parts of the country.

“We are really shocked, traumatised and full of anger. Pakistan is known among the mountaineering community. It was a brutal massacre. These people were killed for no reason,” said Manzoor Hussain, president of the Alpine Club of Pakistan.

Around 40 remaining climbers on Nanga Parbat have been evacuated to the northern city of Gilgit with treks on the peak now unsafe, he told AFP.

“Local authorities have evacuated them. They have all been informed of this incident,” Hussain said.

“We are reviewing the overall security situation. The fallout apparently will be serious.”

Hussain said there would be no further expeditions on Nanga Parbat this summer and that requests for winter climbs would be subject to a security review.

“This season is over for them,” Hussain said.

It is a major blow to foreign trekking expeditions, which provide the last vestige of international tourism in a country where militants have killed thousands of people in recent years.

The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan movement claimed responsibility for the shootings, saying they had set up a new faction, Junoodul Hifsa, to kill foreigners to avenge US drone strikes on Taliban and al Qaeda operatives.

Hussain said the attack was well-planned, carried out by well-equipped and well-trained people familiar with the harsh terrain, with suspected local involvement.

“It took place at 4,200 metres. It has to be the work of well-trained people. It takes two to three days to reach (the camp). The body needs to acclimatise for climbing up. How they went undetected is a big question.”

Expeditions on other peaks in Pakistan higher than 8,000 metres, including K2 the world’s second highest mountain, would continue as the army was in those areas, he said.

The bodies of the dead tourists were on Sunday flown to Islamabad from where they will be repatriated.

Police said Monday that a massive search operation is under way to track down the suspects.

“The military, police, law enforcement agencies are all involved. The terrain is tough. Four helicopters are also combing the suspected areas,” police official Mohammed Naveed told AFP from the district of Diamer.

“This is the most peaceful area in Pakistan. Such an incident never happened before. We’re also interrogating local people. The operation will continue until we achieve the objective,” he said.

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Reader Comments (21)

  • Hassan Jawad
    Jun 24, 2013 - 2:40PM

    This is really disturbing, we all should try our best to throw the militants and their supporters out of Pakistan otherwise this land would be a second Afghanistan. Sad indeed

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  • Waqas
    Jun 24, 2013 - 2:49PM

    Why not evacuate people from karachi as well? suspend activity there as well bcoz people there are getting killed on daily basis. Ban the whole internet, condemn everything but do nothing to solve anything pracitcally

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  • citizen
    Jun 24, 2013 - 2:53PM

    shame shame mere shame. This was sheer brutality

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  • Bercha
    Jun 24, 2013 - 3:00PM

    This is the most peaceful area in Pakistan. Such an incident never happened before?????? More than 100 people have lost their lives within less than one year in the same area(Diamer)….Still govt is reluctant to initiate an operation and favors a sepecific sect of that area….

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  • Parvez
    Jun 24, 2013 - 3:01PM

    Can’t stop random killings in Karachi ……………. ban pillion riding on motor bikes.
    Can’t stop bomb blasts…………….. shut down cell phone net-works.
    Can’t stop terrorists killing on the mountains…………ban mountain climbing expeditions.
    Its quite apparent that some people can’t or don’t or are afraid to do their jobs.
    Yet they get increases in the budget, perks and privileges galore ………. why no ban on this ?

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  • ABC
    Jun 24, 2013 - 3:36PM

    A friend familiar with the area tells me that either this attack was done by the locals themselves or on behalf of someone else or our security agencies. The whole area is completely controlled by army and without their knowledge nobody can access.

    Also its extremely difficult for a random outsider to come and climb such a difficult terrain for the first time. I doubt the locals would want to ruin their own livelihood so………

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  • sattar rind
    Jun 24, 2013 - 3:37PM

    Its just shamefulRecommend

  • abc
    Jun 24, 2013 - 3:43PM

    few persons died because of kite flying and Basant was banned. Same again… Why not ban it altogether as many climbers die during climbing expeditions too.

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  • A-B
    Jun 24, 2013 - 4:06PM

    My heart goes out to these innocent people who after all the issues that Pakistan is facing came to visit for love of sport and to appreciate the natural beaty that Allah has blessed the northern areas with. In their own little way they were ambassadors for Pakistan when back in their countries. This is an act of terror by animals who belong to no faith and nor humanity.

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  • m omar
    Jun 24, 2013 - 4:21PM

    Given the security concerns, everything should be banned in Pakistan for ordinary and international tourists as well. All public parks including festivals in Swat and Polo in GB must be completely closed. Citizens should stay indoors and further tourists visa must be declined and remaining tourists should be deported.

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  • Fudge
    Jun 24, 2013 - 4:31PM

    For all the celebratory grandeur and the hoopla we create for our armed forces, I would like to congratulate them on yet another classic, well done the 5th greatest army in the world. We are proud of you, like always and will forever be, no matter how many times you fail.

    When clearly, it is the responsibility of those who consume most of the budget to protect us, they and their sister concerns fail miserably time and again. Please note this is not against the jawans but their bosses whose strategic alliances are bearing fruit now.

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  • tung
    Jun 24, 2013 - 4:31PM

    they shouldnt come for atleast ten years so that the army realizes that its time to go into north waziristan

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  • Vishnu Dutta
    Jun 24, 2013 - 4:48PM

    @ABC:
    Why does it happen everytime that militants come in army uniform? Is not not obvious or possible that army is doing it itself and blaming it on militants?

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  • Shan
    Jun 24, 2013 - 5:08PM

    Tommarrow issue ban for ‘ no tourist in pakistan’

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  • Alann
    Jun 24, 2013 - 5:34PM

    I have got a solution. Lets just blame India as always. Lets not do anything else. Instead lets breed more terrorists to “save the country”. Doesn’t matter even if we don’t have any normal citizens alive in our own land in few years. It is after all not our fault – it is India’s fault!

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  • salman
    Jun 24, 2013 - 6:18PM

    What is PLMN doing to counter terrorism ? they smartly avoided any comments related to terrorism and their prospective policy to take on the terrorists before the elections and now when they finally in power, they have nothing to say. From Ziarut to Gilgit Balistan, be it Karachi or KP every place is under fire.

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  • misbah
    Jun 24, 2013 - 6:23PM

    @ABC: i thought of that too,oh god we are doomed

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  • Syed
    Jun 24, 2013 - 7:48PM

    First they came after the Shias……………I told you

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  • Sohail
    Jun 24, 2013 - 10:12PM

    The time is near when this country will be strictly quarantined from rest of the world. What a pity for the so-called ‘Fortress of Islam’!!

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  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Jun 24, 2013 - 10:23PM

    There was no need to use the word ”suspend” because no one including our own people will not visit this area. TTP has claimed but we are reluctant to take any action against them why? Are they part of the Deep State? My head falls in shame and despair on this incident including abductions, target killings, sectarian violence and maiming of minorities. This is all against what our country was created for by our Founding Father.

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  • Amir
    Jun 25, 2013 - 3:32AM

    Please help me understand few things here!!

    How difficult is this to track the location of the phone calls in today’s world, as every time TTP or Jundullah claim the responsibility of these attacks through phone calls, and still Pakistani security agencies cannot capture the ones responsible ? If a police department in UK can trace the phone record up to 2 years back for both active and inactive Sims and start capturing the killers of Dr. Imran Farooq, how on earth Pakistani army cannot trace calls records of these killers ?

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