Early yesterday morning a dozen Taliban gunmen crept into a camp at 4,000 feet above sea level on Nanga Parbat — the world’s ninth-tallest mountain — and killed nine foreign climbers and their guide. According the Pakistani authorities, the gunmen wore police uniforms — an increasingly common tactic — tied up the climbers’ local guides and shot the foreigners while they slept in their tents.
The Taliban claimed the attack was retribution for recent drones strike that reportedly killed the group’s second in command, Wali Ur-Rehman, a few weeks ago. A Taliban spokesman reports, “Through this killing we gave a message to the international community to ask U.S. to stop drone strikes.”
The attack killed five Ukrainian climbers, two Chinese, one Russian, one American and one Pakistani guide. The only climber successfully rescued was from China.
The attack occurred amidst a rash of sectarian, domestic violence aimed at the Shiite community in Pakistan. Attacks on foreigners have been rare but rattled the government, which has been attempting to promote its tourism industry.
This comes just as the United States began peace talks with the Taliban. U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry and Ambassador Jim Dobbins met with the leader of Qatar yesterday to discuss peace talks. The Qatari government has attempted to play mediator between the Taliban and the United States. However, when the Taliban opened its office as the headquarters for an alternative government, Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, immediately called off the talks.
Pakistan’s northern border encompasses the majestic Himalayas, which are a popular destination for mountain climbers. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has repeatedly emphasized his desire “to make Pakistan a safe place for tourists.” However, reports like these from Pakistan serve to suggest it is only a safe place for terrorists.