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Pakistan attackers kill 9 foreign mountain climbers and their guide

June 22, 2013|By Nasir Khan and Mark Magnier
  • Nanga Parbat in northern Pakistan is the world's ninth-highest peak.
Nanga Parbat in northern Pakistan is the world's ninth-highest peak. (Zulfikar Ali / AFP/Getty…)

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Attackers at a remote hotel used by adventure tourists in northern Pakistan killed nine foreign climbers and their guide Sunday, according to police and security officials, including five Ukrainians, three Chinese and a Russian.

No one has taken immediate responsibility for the attack, which reportedly took place at about 1 a.m. The hotel in Gilgit-Baltistan doubles as a base camp for mountaineers ascending Nanga Parbat, the world's ninth-highest peak.

The gunmen fled after the attack, said Deputy Inspector General of Police Ali Sher. The remote location could make escape more difficult for the gunmen than those involving strikes in heavily populated cities, analysts said, where attackers can melt into crowded neighborhoods.

"The number of attackers was between 15 to 20," Ali said. "The area is cordoned off and search operations continue."  

Gilgit-Baltistan, bordering China and disputed Kashmir, has traditionally been among Pakistan’s more secure regions, a beautiful area of snow-capped peaks and mountain meadows where Pakistani couples go for their honeymoons. In recent years, however, there’s been a spate of attacks by militants against members of Pakistan's Shiite minority, although until now foreigners were largely spared.

Officials said it was likely the bodies would be retrieved using aircraft, given the difficult terrain.

Pakistan hosts relatively few tourists, but those looking for extreme adventure are attracted to its peaks and hunting opportunities.

In a statement, recently elected Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif said such acts of cruelty would not be tolerated and every effort would be made to “make Pakistan a safe place for tourists.”

mark.magnier@latimes.com

Special correspondent Khan reported from Islamabad and Magnier reported from New Delhi.

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