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Taliban's new target: 10 Himalayan tourists slain in brazen attack

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By The Associated Press
Sunday, June 23, 2013, 8:33 p.m.
 

ISLAMABAD — Islamic militants disguised as policemen killed 10 foreign climbers and a Pakistani guide in a brazen overnight raid on their campsite at the base of one of the world's tallest mountains, officials said on Sunday.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack at the base camp of Nanga Parbat in northern Pakistan, saying it was to avenge the death of their deputy leader in a U.S. drone strike last month.

The attack took place in an area of the Himalayas that has largely been peaceful, hundreds of miles from the Taliban's major sanctuaries along the Afghan border.

The Taliban began their attack by abducting two local guides, forcing them to lead them to the remote base camp in Gilgit-Baltisan, said Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. One of the guides was killed in the shooting, and the other has been detained for questioning.

An estimated 15 gunmen attacked the camp about 11 p.m. Saturday, said the Alpine Club of Pakistan, which spoke with a local guide, Sawal Faqir, a survivor of the shooting. The terrorists began by beating the mountaineers and taking away any mobile and satellite phones they could find and everyone's money.

Some climbers and guides were able to run away; the others were shot dead, said the club. Faqir was able to hide a satellite phone and eventually used it to alert authorities.

The dead foreigners included three Ukrainians, two Slovakians, two Chinese, one Lithuanian, one Nepalese and one Chinese-American, according to tour operators who were working with the climbers. Matt Boland, the acting spokesman at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, confirmed that an American citizen was among the dead.

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan claimed responsibility for the attack, saying their Jundul Hafsa faction carried out the shooting as retaliation for the death of the Taliban's deputy leader, Waliur Rehman, in a U.S. drone attack on May 29.

“By killing foreigners, we wanted to give a message to the world to play their role in bringing an end to the drone attacks,” Ahsan told The Associated Press by telephone from an undisclosed location.

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