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Gunmen Attack Hotel In Remote Pakistani Province

  • RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal

ISLAMABAD-- Gunmen have stormed a hotel in northern Pakistan.

Police say nine foreign tourists and one Pakistani were killed in a raid early on June 23 in Gilgit-Baltistan Province.

Ukraine's ambassador to Pakistan confirmed that five of the victims were Ukrainian nationals, while a Russian state tourism agency confirmed that one of the others killed was a Russian.

Three of the victims are believed to be Chinese.

Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told reporters that the gunmen were disguised as police officers.

"[The attackers] were wearing uniforms of Gilgit Scouts [a paramilitary unit]," he said. "They did not know the location. They abducted two guides. They reached this area with the help of these guides. One of the guides, who helped them, was killed in a shoot-out."

Khan also said one Chinese national survived the attack.

The assailants struck at a base camp for climbers at the foot of Nanga Parbat, the second-highest mountain in Pakistan and the ninth-highest in the world.

The targeting of climbers calls into question the future of foreign mountaineering and trekking expeditions in Pakistan. Mountain sports are currently one of the last vestiges of international tourism in the country.

Khan told journalists in Islamabad that the attacks were made possible due to lapses in security.

"No target is too remote and no target is safe," he said. "Those who have the responsibility and who are paid for ensuring security are not doing their job. We are at war but the whole system is shallow."

He did not provide further details.

A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal that the attack was carried out in revenge for foreign drone strikes in Pakistan.

Gilgit-Baltistan borders China and Kashmir.

Analysts say the area has been considered one of the more secure areas of Pakistan but has witnessed a series of attacks by militants targeting members of Pakistan's Shi'ite minority in recent years.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP