Gunmen have killed at least nine foreign tourists and a Pakistani guide in a remote part of northern Pakistan. A search and rescue operation has begun in the area. No group has yet claimed responsibility.
The attack happened overnight near the base camp for the Nanga Parbat mountain (pictured above), in the Diamer district of Pakistan's Giglit-Baltistan region. The mountain is the ninth highest in the world and a popular destination for trekkers.
The foreigners killed were five Ukrainians, three Chinese and one Russian, said Pakistan's interior minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. He said one Chinese tourist was rescued. It is unclear how the tourist managed to avoid being killed.
"There were nine foreigners and one Pakistani ...they were mountaineers and based in a camp," Diamer police official Mohammed Naveed said.
"Gunmen came and opened fire on them," Naveed said. "It is confirmed that they have been killed."
A senior government official, who spoke to the news agency AP on condition of anonymity, said the gunmen wore uniforms of a paramilitary police force that patrols the area. He said the attackers tied up and robbed the Pakistanis accompanying the group, and shot one of them. The official said they also took the money and passports from the foreign tourists and then gunned them down.
Gilgit-Baltistan borders China and Kashmir, and is considered one of the more secure areas of Pakistan. However in recent years, it has witnessed a spate of attacks by militants targeting members of Pakistan's Shiite minority.
In a statement from the Foreign Ministry, the Pakistani government condemned the attack.
"The government of Pakistan expresses its deep sense of shock and grief on this brutal act of terrorism, and extends its sympathy to the families of the victims. Those who have committed this heinous crime seem to be attempting to disrupt the growing relations of Pakistan with China and other friendly countries," the statment said.
jr/av (AFP, Reuters)