Mountaineers killed in Pakistan attack
Updated: 2013-06-24 01:29
By Pu Zhendong in Beijing and Cui Jia in Urumqi (China Daily)
The coffin of a Chinese mountaineer killed by terrorists in Pakistan is carried into a vehicle operated by the city of Islamabad. Zhang Yong / Xinhua
Two Chinese mountaineers and one Chinese American were killed in a pre-dawn terrorist attack that claimed 10 lives in Pakistan's northern Gilgit-Baltistan area on Sunday.
The Chinese embassy in Pakistan confirmed the attack, saying that one Chinese national was rescued and details about the dead Chinese were being investigated.
According to Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the Chinese who escaped the attack was able to hide and was later rescued.
Early Sunday morning, a group of gunmen dressed as paramilitary police stormed a base camp for the 8,125-meter snow-covered Nanga Parbat peak, the ninth-highest mountain in the world, and shot dead five Ukrainians, one Russian and one Pakistani guide, in addition to the other three. AFP said that the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
Local media said that there were an estimated 10 to 12 militants involved in the attack. They woke up the tourists, ordered them to come out of the hotel and opened fire on them, said the report.
The Foreign Ministry on Sunday denounced the attack, urging Pakistan to rescue survivors, arrest and punish the murderers, and properly follow up on the incident.
Yang Chunfeng, a 45-year-old experienced mountaineer from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, was confirmed as one of the two dead Chinese climbers.
He was on his dream tour conquering the 14 independent mountains that are more than 8,000 meters above sea level in the Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges.
Ma Liya, Yang's assistant who is now in China, said she could not believe what had happened to Yang, although she was "somehow always prepared for his death", as mountaineers are always trying to push the limit.
"But not in this way. If Yang ever died accidentally it should have been on his way up the mountain to pursue his dreams, but never by guns," Ma said.
Yang joined the international mountain climbing team on June 8 and planned to return to China around July 20, she said.
"We talked about the weather forecast in the mountains around 5 pm on Saturday. He told me everything was fine. I lost contact with him after the attack," she said.
Ma said she got a call from another Chinese member of the team, Zhang Jingchuan, around 8:20 am on Sunday asking her to call the Chinese embassy in Pakistan for help because they were under attack by a group of armed men. Zhang, from Yunnan province, survived the attack.
"I then contacted the embassy immediately and now three Chinese people were confirmed dead. We are still waiting for their identities to be confirmed," she said.
Yang Jun, captain of a mountain rescue team in Xinjiang and a friend of Yang Chunfeng, said people in Xinjiang will always be proud of Yang Chunfeng.
"His exploratory spirit set a role model for all Chinese people," he said.
The Pakistani government and the Chinese embassy have not yet released the other Chinese victim's name, but sources on the Internet indicate that the other dead was 48-year-old mountaineer Rao Jianfeng from Shenzhen, Guangdong province.
A search has begun for the shooters, a Pakistani police officer was quoted by Xinhua News Agency as saying.
Claiming responsibility for the killing, the Pakistani Taliban said the assault was to avenge US drone strikes after its second in command was killed in the northwestern tribal belt on the Afghan border, AFP said.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the government will take all measures necessary to ensure the security of foreign tourists.