According to AFP, Pakistani police said Thursday (October 31) announced that they have arrested 18 suspects over the killing of 10 foreign climbers in the Himalayas in June, but warned that seven others remain at large.
The June 22, 2013 attack was the deadliest assault on foreigners in Pakistan in a decade and was claimed by a purported new faction of Pakistan’s umbrella Taliban movement.
Police in the northern districts of Gilgit and Diamer in the Gilgit-Baltistan region said they have arrested 18 suspects on suspicion of planning and carrying out the attack. The officer leading the investigation said only four of those held are believed to have been directly involved in the killings at the foot of Pakistan’s second highest mountain, Nanga Parbat.
The victims of the attack, carried out by men in police uniforms, were identified as one American with dual Chinese citizenship, three Ukrainians, two other Chinese, two Slovakians, one Lithuanian and one Nepalese. A Pakistani guide was also killed.
Further details of the attack have emerged during interrogation. The suspects have revealed that their original plan was to kidnap the trekkers, an investigating officer said. The original plan went bad when one of the Chinese resisted after they approached them.
After the Chinese tourist retaliated, one of the terrorists fired a shot that killed him at which point the gunmen began arguing among themselves which resulted in their spraying all of the climber with semi-auto machine-guns.
COMMENT: A senior official of the local administration said extremists numbering 35 from Diamer district had linked up with the Pakistani Taliban and traveled to the tribal areas along the Afghan border for training.
Following the shooting of the ten climbers, the attack the Taliban said it had set up a new faction, Junood ul-Hifsa, to kill foreigners in retaliation of US drone strikes on Taliban and al-Qaeda targets in northwest Pakistan.
Until the June 22 attack, Gilgit-Baltistan was considered immune from much of the Islamist militancy plaguing other areas. The killings badly hit the local tourism industry, a major economic boost.
The fact is that ALL of Pakistan is a war-like conflict zone and should be avoided by tourists of all nationalities, as any foreigner is a terrorist target and subject to being killed or kidnapped and held for months, if not years.
I urge all of our readers unfamiliar with Pakistan to do a search of my posting over the last few years by going to my 2,500+ postings and simply typing in the word, "Pakistan."