A group of militants has stormed a hotel near the base camp of the Nanga Parbat peak in northern Pakistan, killing nine foreign tourists and their guide, Pakistani security officials said.
“Unknown people entered a hotel where foreign tourists were staying last night and opened fire,” Ali Sher, a senior police officer in the northern Gilgit-Baltistan province, told Reuters.
According to the official, the assault on the climbers, who were staying in a small resort close to the base camp of the ninth-highest mountain in the world, happened at around 1:00 am local time (20:00 GMT).
The 15-strong gang dressed in uniforms used by a local paramilitary force shot dead the tourists and a Pakistani guard with them, while holding hotel employees at gunpoint. A Chinese climber managed to flee.
“The gunmen held the staff hostage and then started killing foreign tourists and made their escape,” the official added.
The nationalities of several victims of the attack have not been fully confirmed yet. Reportedly, along with five identified Ukrainian tourists, Chinese citizens, one American and a Nepalese were also killed.
There were also reports of one Russian being among the gunned down tourists, but the police “aren’t confirming or denying” the information.
Russia’s tourism authority, Rostourism, told Itar-Tass that the Russian Federation’s consular service in Pakistan is in contact with law enforcement officers.
“The killed person is being identified now. The consular service is expecting further news from the police,” Irina Shchegolkova of Rostourism said.
However, the Russian Climbing Federation CEO Aleksey Ovchinnikov said that there were no Russians among the victims of the terrorist attack. Currently, there are two Russian expeditions involving ten people in the Pakistani mountains.
An extremist militant group known as Jundallah claimed that they were behind the attack. The organization has carried out previous deadly attacks on Pakistan’s Shiite Muslim minority population.
“These foreigners are our enemies and we proudly claim responsibility for killing them and will continue such attacks in the future as well,” Jundullah spokesman Ahmed Marwat told Reuters by telephone.
Another militant group, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, has also claimed responsibility for the attack, saying their fighters conducted the killing “to retaliate for the US drone assaults in north-west Pakistan.
“The killing of foreigners in Gilgit (Baltistan province) is called to show the international community the degree of hatred we feel about the Americans attacking our fighters,” Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan told local media.