2013 Nanga Parbat tourist shooting

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2013 Nanga Parbat Massacre
Part of War in North-West Pakistan
Nanga Parbat is located in Pakistan
Nanga Parbat
Nanga Parbat
Nanga Parbat (Pakistan)
Location Nanga Parbat, Kashmir, Pakistan
Date 22 June 2013 (2013-06-22)-23 June 2013 (2013-06-23)
10:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m. (Pakistan Standard Time) (UTC +5:00)
Target Foreign tourists
Attack type
Mass murder
Deaths 11
Non-fatal injuries
2
Perpetrator Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan
Motive U.S. drone strikes on Pakistani territory

On June 22, 2013, about 16 militants, reportedly dressed in Gilgit Scouts uniform, stormed a high-altitude mountaineering base camp in Gilgit–Baltistan, Pakistan and killed 10 climbers, as well as a local guide.[1] Three of the climbers were from Ukraine, two were from China including one Chinese-American, two others from Slovakia, one from Lithuania, and one from Nepal.[2][3][4] A tourist from Latvia was supposed to be in the camp as well, but due to luck happened to be outside of the camp during the attack and remained unscathed while a Chinese citizen managed to escape the assailants.[5][6] The attack happened at the base camp for 8,126 meters (26,660 feet) high Nanga Parbat, the ninth highest mountain in the world.[7] The mountain is popular with trekkers and mountaineers from June to August because of the moderate weather.[7]

As of November 2013, many of the assailants involved in the attack have been arrested and are being tried under the Anti-Terrorist Act. According to the Senate’s Standing Committee on Foreign Relations, the original motive of the assassins had been not to kill the tourists, but instead kidnap them to demand ransom.[8]

The attack[edit]

The attack occurred at this base camp. The Nanga Parbat mountain can be seen in the background.

On June 22, 2013, at 10.00 p.m. local time, about 16 attackers entered into a base camp hotel where foreign tourists who come to climb the Nanga Parbat Mountains usually stay. The attackers then opened fire, resulting in the deaths of ten tourists. One was an American with dual Chinese citizenship, three came from Ukraine, two from Slovakia, one other from China, one from Lithuania, and one a Sherpa from Nepal.[2][9][10]

The attackers had gained access to this remote location by reportedly abducting two Pakistani guides. The site of the attack is located 4,200 meters above sea-level and can only be approached via foot or horseback. According to a Diamer police official, Muhammad Nabi, one of the abducted guides was killed during the shootout while the other was found and detained for questioning. He said that there was general misinformation in the media regarding the Pakistani killed. Nabi stated that the guide of the expedition was a Nepalese by the name of Sona Sherpa and not the Pakistani guide as portrayed by the local media.[11]

A Chinese mountaineer, Zhang Jingchuan, who survived the assault, detailed his ordeal in a press-conference held at Kunming in the Yunnan province of China. He recalled the attack being sudden. He said that he was shot at and a bullet flew over his head. After that, he stated he got out and started running blindly towards a trench 30 meters away. Upon reaching the trench he jumped in and stayed there for 40 minutes. After that he sneaked out and made his way back to the cabin, from where he called the police from a satellite phone. According to Zhang, a helicopter arrived nine hours after the incident, during which time he had grabbed an ice-axe and had moved to higher ground. Zhang Jingchuan also noted that before shooting the climbers the attackers collected the climbers' passports and took their photos.[6][12][13]

A surviving Pakistani climber, Sher Khan, revealed more details of the attack that night. According to his report, the terrorists first made the climbers give them money, satellite phones and radio sets, then tied the climbers' hands with ropes. After that, they asked the climbers to turn their faces in the opposite direction and shot them immediately without any explanations.[14]

The perpetrators identified themselves as "al-Qaida" and "Taliban", some were teenagers, others in their 20s, the leader was older. "They were shouting God is Great, long live Islam and long live Osama bin Laden," Sher Khan remembered. "They kept shouting as they left. I remember one shouting: "this is revenge for Sheikh bin Laden"."[15]

This shooting was the first time an attack on mountaineers occurred in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan, which was generally considered free from militancy apart from sporadic attacks on the minority Shi'ite Muslims.[4][7][16]

According to new information, the terrorists planned to kidnap Chen Honglu (dual Chinese-American citizen) to trade him for a Taliban commander in Afghanistan. As the attack unfolded in the Nanga Parbat base camp, Chen burst out of his tent and tackled one of the militants using martial arts techniques. The militant, named Mujeeb, panicked and shot him, destroying the main purpose of the mission and infuriating the terrorist commanders. The remaining climbers were then tied up and shot. Then one of the commanders made the control shots. After the slaughter, the attackers walked for five hours to a remote village where they buried their uniforms and had breakfast before walking on to another village and dispersing.[17]

Investigation[edit]

Following the incident, the then Interior Minister of Pakistan, Nisar Ali Khan suspended the Inspector General of Police(IGP) and Chief Secretary of Gilgit-Baltistan for their failure to provide effective security to the tourists. He further stated that an inquiry will be held to determine the cause of the incident.

A day following the attack, Nisar told the National Assembly of Pakistan that a high-power investigation committee consisting of Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Director General ISI Zaheerul Islam, representatives from other intelligence agencies along with officials from the Gilgit-Baltistan police was formed to investigate the incident. A local jirga was also formed in Diamer to aid with the probe.[18]

Immediately after the investigation commenced, 37 suspects were arrested from the villages surrounding the site of the attack. However, IGP Zakaria later conceded that 33 of them were porters who divulged important information regarding the attack. All 37 initial suspects were released after questioning.[19][20]

A significant breakthrough was made four days after the incident when all 16 of the attackers were identified. According to the police chief, Zakaria, the help from the local Diamer jirga was instrumental in this development. The men volunteering in the jirga were dropped off into various adjacent valleys and then picked up for a debriefing in Chilas. The police chief further stated that all the attackers were local, with 10 of them belonging to Diamer, 3 to Mansehra and 3 of them belonging to Kohistan. The ten Diamer valley residents were identified as Hidayat Ullah, Shafiqullah, Qari Rafaqat, Sana Ullah, Malik Nijad, Azizullah, Mahfoozul Haq, Mujeed, Shafi Muhammad and Hazrat Oman. Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Secretary, Munir Badini was hesitant in linking them to Pakistani Taliban but confirmed that from the reports he received, the assailants were trained in FATA, a place 760 kilometres (470 mi) downhill that is a hotbed of extremism and borders Afghanistan.[20][21]

On June 30, 2013, a week after the assault, DIG G-B police Ali Sher told the media the one of the attackers, Shafi Muhammad, was arrested from a house in the nearby town of Chilas. He said the attacker was holed up in this house since the attack and arresting him was major milestone in resolving this case. Another attacker, Shafiqullah, was arrested later the same day.[22][23]

On July 6, 2013, the police arrested another person from Chilas believed to be involved in the shooting. DIG Sher, in a press conference, stated that efforts to arrest all perpetrators have stepped up and more arrests will be seen in the coming days.[23]

As of July 15, 2013, only 4 out of 16 suspected attackers have been arrested. The identity of the 4th perpetrator is not yet disclosed. Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Relations has called a special meeting [on July 15, 2013] to get an update from the Gilgit-Baltistan authorities on the progress of investigation. Chairman of the Senate Committee Haji Mohammad Adeel said that he was concerned that there was no tangible progress in bringing the culprits to justice. Chief Secretary of G-B, Mohammad Younus Dhaga, was briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Relations over the attack on Nanga Parbat saying that "it was unexpected that foreign tourists would be targeted in the area, since no tourist was killed there since 1854." Haji Mohammad Adeel disagreed, "no attack is carried out by making the plan public; it is the intelligence agencies’ task to assess areas, while being cognisant of the overall security atmosphere."[24][25]

On August 7, 2013, Taliban killed 3 security officials who were investigating the Nanga Parbat massacre. Gunmen opened fire on the officers' vehicle in the Chilas town of Diamer district while it was returning from the house of the deputy commissioner. The slain include a police official, SP Hilal Ahmed, who was driving the vehicle, Captain Ashfaq Aziz and Colonel Ghulam Mustafa. The latter two belonged to the Pakistan Army and were responsible for the internal security of the district.[26][27]

The death of army officials prompted Pakistan Army to enter the district for the first time since the incident. The army conducted a targeted operation in four localities of Chilas while the entry and exit points to the town were sealed and Army Aviation helicopters hovered above. The operations lasted till late in the evening of August 11, 2013. An undisclosed number of suspects were rounded up as a result.[28]

On August 19, 2013, it was reported that all 20 of the men supposed to be behind the Nanga Parbat attack were arrested. The series of arrests were started by an army operation earlier in the week and ended with a targeted police operation in the suspected hideouts of these militants. Earlier, in July, 4 of the attackers were arrested by law enforcement agencies. According to the newly instated SP of Diamer district, Muhammad Navid, the arrested militants were also responsible for the February 2012 Kohistan Shia Massacre, in which 18 Shi'ite Muslims were killed. Navid further said that intelligence agencies played a pivotal role in the arrests and that further information would be released in a couple of days.[29]

The Chief Secretary of Gilgit-Baltistan Younis Dagha announced that among the arrested on August 19, 2013 was the terrorist Qaribullah (‘Hasan’), a former Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan leader of the Chilas unit, who might be the mastermind of the Nanga Parbat attack, as well as M Nabi (Qari Husnain) suspected in the murder of government officials on August 7, 2013.[30]

As of June 29, 2014, five out of 18 detained suspects were still in custody. However several militant sources say only one of them was involved in the attack, while the rest were forced to confess. Mujeeb remains in hiding in the forests of the district, where, from time to time, he makes audio recordings of militant poetry that find their way to the markets of Gilgit town. According to Bashir Qureshi, a member of the negotiating team assigned to bring the culprits out of hiding, there were many grey areas in the case. “Nothing is clear, they have mixed up four different cases to give an impression that all the perpetrators have been arrested but the real perpetrators are still at large,” he said. [31]

Perpetrators[edit]

The Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attacks in a statement released later on the day of the attack. The group claimed it was a retaliation in the wake of the fatal US drone strike against Waliur Rehman, a pro-peace Taliban commander,[32] who was killed on 29 May 2013.[7] The group's spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan said ″Through this killing we gave a message to international community to ask U.S. to stop drone strikes″.[33] Another militant group Jundallah, notorious for organising attacks on Pakistani Shi'ites, had also previously claimed responsibility.[4]

Victims[edit]

According to sources, the victims were:[34][35]

Number of victims Country Names Notes
3  Ukraine
  • Ihor Sverhun, 47 (uk)
  • Badavi Kashayev, 54
  • Dmytro Koniayev, 43
Sverhun was the team leader, climbed 6 x 8,000ers in the past
All three from Kharkiv.[35]
2  Slovakia
  • Anton Dobeš, 50
  • Peter Šperka (sk), 57
2  China
  • Yang Chunfeng (zh), 45
  • Rao Jianfeng (zh), 49
Yang was a leading Chinese mountaineer with 11 x 8,000ers under his belt

Rao was another leading Chinese mountaineer with 10 x 8,000ers under his belt [36]

1  United States
  • Honglu Chen, 50
American with dual Chinese citizenship.[37][38]
1  Lithuania
  • Ernestas Markšaitis, 44
Solo-climbed Broad Peak in 2012, attempted K2 same year, attempted Dhaulagiri and other 8,000ers in the past [39]
1    Nepal
  • Sona Sherpa, 35
Climbed K2 in 2012 [40]
1  Pakistan
Ali Hussain, 28
Pakistani cook in one of the teams (not a guide as thought before).[11]

Response[edit]

  • Pakistan - Army helicopters were sent to retrieve the bodies, while Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Asif Ali Zardari issued statements condemning the attack.[7] The Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly passed a unanimous resolution condemning the ' barbaric attack'. A day after the incident, thousands of people from the Chilas town of Diamer district took to the streets to express solidarity with the relatives of the deceased. Shops and businesses also remained closed.[41] Two days after the incident, scores of people gathered to hold a candlelight vigil in remembrance of the victims about 300 km away from the site of the attack. The event was attended by the members from the civil society and the government. The attendees held placards inscribed with messages that denounced terrorism and empathized with the bereaved families.[42] The local mountaineering expedition organizer of Pakistan, Alpine Club of Pakistan, also censured this "deplorable and heinous act of terrorism."[43]
  • United Nations - UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon issued a statement condemning the attack and said that he was "deeply concerned about the recent wave of violence in Pakistan" and that the "UN will grant the Pakistani government full support in the face of terrorism and extremism." He also urged the Government of Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of the attack to justice.[44]
  • Germany - Two German expedition organizers, Hauser Exkursionen and Amical Alpin cancelled their trips to Nanga Parbat in the wake of the terrorist attack.[45]
  • Ukraine - The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry categorically condemned the attacks and asked the Pakistan Government to compensate the bereaved and bring the culprits to justice as soon as possible.[46][47]
  • China - The Chinese Government adopted an aggressive stance after the incident and asked their Pakistani counterparts to "severely punish" the perpetrators and ensure the security of their citizens.[48]
  • Latvia - Latvian foreign minister, Edgars Rinkēvičs, stated in a tweet, following the attack that "Our mountain climber was not at the camp during the attack. A lucky coincidence. However, it is also a reminder that no one is safe from terrorists."[49]
  • The UIAA president, Frits Vrijlandt, condemned the attack.[50]
  • Families of Ukrainian climbers who were killed by terrorists in Nanga Perbat Base Camp Pakistan have demanded compensations of 300,000 USD for each case of tragic death. Before that, the government of Pakistan responded with repeated refusal to the requests of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine to provide to families of the lost climbers monetary compensation. Lawyers intend to appeal in case of dissatisfaction of this requirement to judicial authorities and to the international community.[51]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Zarar Khan, Sebastian Abbot (23 June 2013). "Pakistan Gunmen Kill 10 Foreign Mountain Climbers Preparing Nanga Parbat Ascent". Huffington Post. 
  2. ^ a b "10 foreign victims identified after Pakistan attack". AFP via Times of Oman. 2013-06-24. Retrieved 2013-06-24. 
  3. ^ "Gunmen kill 9 foreign tourists in Pakistan". Usatoday.com. 2013-06-23. Retrieved 2013-06-23. 
  4. ^ a b c Ahmad, Jibran (23 June 2013). "Gunmen stormed a hotel in a remote part of northern Pakistan on Sunday and killed nine foreign tourists and a Pakistani guide, police and security officials said.". Reuters. 
  5. ^ "Latvian citizen unscathed in Nanga Parbat terror attack due to lucky coincidence". 2013-06-25. Retrieved 2013-06-25. 
  6. ^ a b "Chinese survivor of Nanga Parbat speaks of ordeal". Pakistan Today. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c d e "Tourists killed at north Pakistan mountain camp". BBC. 23 June 2013. Retrieved 23 June 2013. 
  8. ^ "Committee’s findings: ‘Militants did not want to kill Nanga Parbat tourists’". Express Tribune. 20 November 2013. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
  9. ^ "Pakistan hotel attack: Nine foreign tourists, one guide killed". ZeeNews. 2013-06-23. Retrieved 2013-06-23. 
  10. ^ "Gunmen kill nine foreign tourists and their guide in northern Pakistan". Times Of India. 2013-06-23. Retrieved 2013-06-23. 
  11. ^ a b Sherazi, Zahir Shah. "Gunmen kill nine foreign tourists and their guide in Nanga Parbat". The Daily Dawn. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  12. ^ Massacre in the Himalayas, August 2013
  13. ^ Pakistan attack survivor back home, June 27, 2013
  14. ^ Climbers Recount Murder on Famous Pakistan Peak, BBC, June 28, 2013
  15. ^ "How Taliban brought new terror to Pakistan's Killer Mountain", The Guardian, July 23, 2013
  16. ^ Ningzhu, Zhu. "10 including 9 foreigners killed in Pakistan's northern area of Gilgit". Xinhua. Retrieved 23 June 2013. 
  17. ^ "Chinese-American prime target in Nanga Parbat massacre", The Express Tribune, June 29, 2014
  18. ^ "Ch. Nisar suspends IG Police of Gilgit after the tourist deaths". Pakistan Post. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  19. ^ "Killing of foreign tourists: 37 suspects arrested". Geo News. 
  20. ^ a b "16 Nanga Parbat attackers identified". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  21. ^ "FATA to Diamer Valley". Google Maps. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  22. ^ Peer, Muhammad. "One of 16 Nanga Parbat attackers arrested: Police". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
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  24. ^ "Terror attack in G-B: Senate panel seeks update on Nanga Parbat progress", The Express Tribune of Pakistan, July 15, 2013
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  26. ^ Mir, Shabbir. "Terror in Gilgit-Baltistan: Nanga Parbat investigators shot dead in Chilas". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  27. ^ Taliban kill Pakistan officers probing massacre of foreign climbers, August 6, 2013
  28. ^ Khan, Farooq Ahmed. "Pak Army enters Chilas to conduct targeted operation". The Daily Dawn. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  29. ^ Khan, Farooq Ahmed. "Men behind ‘Nanga Parbat massacre’ arrested". The Daily Dawn. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  30. ^ Nanga Parbat attack mastermind arrested: G-B Chief Secretary, The Express Tribune, September 5, 2013
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  32. ^ "Dead TTP commander Waliur Rehman 'pro-peace'". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 27 June 2013. 
  33. ^ "Taliban kills foreign climbers". The Washington Post. June 23, 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-23. 
  34. ^ Massacre near Nanga Parbat: Victims have been identified
  35. ^ a b Three Kharkiv mountain-climbers among tourists killed in Pakistan, Interfax-Ukraine (24 June 2013)
  36. ^ The shattered dream of two avid mountaineers
  37. ^ The Express Tribune: Nanga Parbat assault: Tragedy in Himalayas
  38. ^ 8000ers.com: Memorial table with achievements, 24 June, 2013
  39. ^ Himalayan Database Expedition Archives of Elizabeth Hawley
  40. ^ Pamir Times: Massacre near Nanga Parbat: Victims have been identified
  41. ^ Mir, Shabbir. "On the record: G-B lawmakers condemn Nanga Parbat killings". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 27 June 2013. 
  42. ^ Mir, Shabbir. "Nanga Parbat tragedy: Locals, politicians attend candlelight vigil". The Express Tribune. 
  43. ^ "ACP Condemns Terror Attack". Explorer's Web. 
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  45. ^ Nestler, Stefan. "Taliban mountain attack could hurt tourism". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 28 June 2013. 
  46. ^ "Ukraine condemns attack on climbers in Pakistan". The Daily Dawn. Retrieved 28 June 2013. 
  47. ^ Nanga Parbat Massacre: Families of Ukrainian climbers demand compensation
  48. ^ Sherazi, Zahir. "Gunmen kill nine foreign tourists and their guide in Nanga Parbat". The Daily Dawn. Retrieved 28 June 2013. 
  49. ^ "Latvian citizen unscathed in Nanga Parbat terror attack due to lucky coincidence". Latvian News. Retrieved 13 August 2013. 
  50. ^ "UIAA Condemns Attack on Nanga Parbat Mountaineers". UIAA. Retrieved 28 June 2013. 
  51. ^ Nanga Parbat Massacre: Families of Ukrainian climbers demand compensation, September, 16, 2013

Coordinates: 35°27′18″N 73°56′59″E / 35.45500°N 73.94972°E / 35.45500; 73.94972