Islamabad, Jun 23: Taliban gunmen disguised as soldiers killed nine foreign tourists and a Pakistani guide in an unprecedented attack on a base camp in remote mountains of northern Pakistan, embarrassing the PML-N government just weeks after it assumed office.
About 14 to 16 militants targeted the camp at Buner Valley in Gilgit-Baltistan that serves as a base for mountaineers headed for the 8,126-metre Nanga Parbat, the world's ninth highest peak.
The attack occurred late last night but authorities were alerted only this morning, officials said.
Speaking in parliament, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said three Chinese nationals, one Russian, five Ukrainians and one Pakistani were among the dead. Another Chinese tourist was recovered safely, he said.
“The attackers were wearing the uniform of the Gilgit Scouts. They abducted two (Pakistani) guides and demanded they take them to where the foreigners were staying. One (guide) was killed and the other is alive. He has been detained by police for questioning,” Khan said.
The Gilgit Scouts is a paramilitary unit that is part of the army's Northern Light Infantry regiment.
The outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan today claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was carried out to avenge the death of the group's deputy chief, Waliur Rehman, in a US drone strike on May 29.
Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan called journalists and said the attack was carried out by a new faction named Junood-e-Hafsa.
“This will tell the international community about our feelings and sentiments against the killing of our fighters. We want to convey to the world that this is our reply to US drone attacks,” he said.
Ihsan said Junood-e-Hafsa was set up to attack foreigners.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned the killing of the foreigners and said “such acts of cruelty and inhumanity would not be tolerated and every effort would be made to make Pakistan a safe place for tourists”.
The TTP has been engaged in a domestic insurgency since 2007 but it was not known to have a presence in Gilgit-Baltistan, a region that is disputed between Pakistan and India.