Taliban Massacres Climbers on Nanga Parbat

A northern Pakistan affiliate of the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the murder of 11 people at or near base camp on Nanga Parbat, the world's ninth-highest mountain. A group of militants dressed in police uniforms reportedly entered the base camp area in the middle of the night on June 22, bound the Pakistani staff, and shot and killed 10 climbers and one expedition staffer. The dead were from China, Lithuania, Nepal, Pakistan, Slovakia, and Ukraine; one of the dead was a Chinese-American.

The massacre took place at the foot of the Diamir, or west, face of Nanga Parbat, the most popular route up the mountain. At least seven expeditions were in position to start their climbs or were working their way up to higher camps. The Nanga Parbat base camps are unusually close to towns for an 8,000-meter peak in Pakistan—the Diamir camp is only about two day's walk from the road, compared with more than a week for the Baltoro Glacier base camps.

The base camp area has been sealed by Pakistani solidiers, and a manhunt is under way for the killers. A local branch of the Taliban said the killings were intended to avenge the death of one of their leaders, killed in a U.S. drone strike.

The climbing season in Pakistan's high mountains has just got under way, and many expeditions were en route to base camps in the Karakoram and other ranges. Although most peaks targeted by climbers, including giants like K2 and Broad Peak, are not in the same area as Nanga Parbat, climbers must travel through the region to start their treks to base camp. (Weather permitting, it's possible to fly to Skardu and bypass the Nanga Parbat area of the Karakoram Highway.) At least some teams have now been turned back, including the Canadian-American expedition of Jesse Huey, Raphael Slawinski, and Ian Welsted, who were traveling toward the Charakusa Valley by mini-bus but were turned around and now have returned to Islamabad. (Update: Huey has decided to return home, while Slawinski and Welsted have flown to Skardu and are assessing whether to continue into the mountains.) It is not clear what expeditions already in the mountains will do, and whether Pakistani authorities will encourage or discourage travel in the region. All expeditions on the Diamir side of Nanga Parbat are leaving the mountain.

Veteran travelers to the northern Pakistan expressed dismay that such a terrible incident has taken place, in part because until recently this area was considered relatively safe for climbers, trekkers, and other tourists. A handful of Western tourists were killed in the mountains in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but these attacks were not belived to be politically motivated. Many people in the territory of Gilgit-Baltistan, in which most of Pakistan's most famous peaks are located, depend on climbers and trekkers for their livelihood.

Date of attack: June 23, 2013


Previous Comments

Naaema, thank you so much for your condolences. You are a prince of peace. May peace be unto the gracious people of beautiful Pakistan. For anyone who cares to understand how Jundallah is funded and operated and who pulls the strings in these despicable crimes, please check out these two links from Pakistani journalists. http://www.opinion-maker.org/2011/03/who-is-raymond-davis/ This explains the method. http://www.opinion-maker.org/2012/01/jundallah-and-israel/# This explains who pays Jundallah. Same old story, eh?.

Flash - 06/29/2013 11:31:34

Sender, you're a D-bag. "...killings were intended to avenge the death of one of their leaders, killed in a U.S. drone strike."

Alpinist - 06/25/2013 9:35:02

If we want to talk about evils...I say fundamentalism is the worst of all. Fundamentalism whether it be in deference to national or religious or philosophical ideals...fundamentalism of any sort (christian, muslim, jewish, etc.) = close-mindedness. Let this event be a call to open-mindedness. Answer violence of this nature with jubilant pacifism and a commitment to the defeat of narrow minded ideologies. If we are truly a diverse species, then let us acknowledge that inherent diversity by standing firm...stretching to the sky, while staying rooted to Mother Earth, in opposition to reactionary measures of this sort. Let us also not be misled to think that this violence comes from just one side...let us all remind our gov't that violence of ANY sort whether militarily or privately ordained...IS NOT OKAY...and only serves to ensure further violence later on. All of it is despicable. The Taliban be damned...fundamentalism be damned...Violence be damned...Let us all LIVE REAL and TRUE and IN HARMONY with Ideals concordant with the universe!

Biff Switters - 06/25/2013 2:52:42

The point is clear: if America continues to slaughter and terrorize civilians with drone attacks, then the Taliban will return in kind. I think this sort of senseless violence is disgusting but unfortunately the USA seems oblivious to the global perception of America as a self-serving, self-absorbed, and supremely violent nation. These climbers are innocent victims of American arrogance as much as they are victims of the Taliban.

Sender - 06/25/2013 1:25:26

Talk about pointless! What the hell do European and Asian CLIMBERS have to do with US Military attacks!? The Taliban are nonsensical cowards.

Shawn - 06/24/2013 7:37:18

The land and people of Gilgit-Baltistan express their deepest respect, heart-felt prayers and sincerest gratitude to the souls of the heroes killed and truest condolences to the bereaved families and loved ones... We are very sorry guys... We couldn't even give you safety in return for all the love and admiration you held for this land and came to see it... We feel guilty and our hearts are mourning this tragedy.... Forgive the land and people of Gilgit-Baltistan... Each and everyone here is sorry....

Naeema - 06/24/2013 1:04:33

Words fit to print fail me. My thoughts and prayers go out to their survivors to ease their unimaginable dismay, confusion and pain. Other thoughts and prayers go toward the killers in (the likely) vain hope thqt they will figure out why their deeds are so misguided.

Lynn - 06/23/2013 10:13:04

Disgusting that they would deliberately choose to slaughter unarmed climbers who are supporting the country and then attempt to "validate" it... No one is safe from extemist terrorists... My prayers and condolences to the climbers and their families and friends.

Gabriel Gigliotti - 06/23/2013 2:45:43