Pak Taliban gunners barge into hotel, kill 9 foreign tourists

IntHospital staff with the body a foreign tourist killed by Taliban gunmen, in Islamabad on Sunday. REUTERS

In an unprecedented attack on foreigners, Taliban militants wearing paramilitary uniforms stormed a mountaineering base camp in northern Pakistan, killing nine foreign tourists and two Pakistanis, embarrassing the PML-N government just weeks after it assumed office and offered peace talks with the insurgents.

About 14 to 16 militants targeted the camp at Buner Valley in Gilgit-Baltistan that serves as a base for mountaineers headed for the 8,126-metre Nanga Parbat, the world's ninth highest peak.

The attack occurred late Saturday but authorities were alerted only this morning, officials said. Confusion surrounded the number and nationality of those killed in the attack in Gilgit-Baltistan, a disputed territory between Pakistan and India. Officials said nine foreigners and one Pakistani were killed but later revised the toll to 11, including two Pakistanis.

Speaking to reporters at a military airbase after the bodies of the victims were flown to Rawalpindi, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said only four of the dead had been identified so far. They included one American national of Chinese origin, one Nepalese and two Chinese nationals. Officials said the other foreigners could not be identified as the attackers had taken away their documents.

Earlier, the Interior Minister said in parliament that three Chinese nationals, one Russian, five Ukrainians and one Pakistani were among the dead. Another Chinese tourist was recovered safely, he said. "The attackers were wearing the uniform of the Gilgit Scouts. They abducted two (Pakistani) guides and demanded they take them to where the foreigners were staying. One guide was killed and the other is alive. He has been detained by police for questioning," Khan said. The Gilgit Scouts is a paramilitary unit that is part of the army's Northern Light Infantry regiment.

The outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was carried out to avenge the death of the group's deputy chief, Waliur Rehman, in a US drone strike on May 29.

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