Taliban claim responsibility for Nanga Parbat massacre

Posted by Lindsay Griffin on 24/06/2013
Diamir face of Nanga Parbat from the vicinity of base camp. Irena Mrak

In a widely reported incident, mountaineering in Pakistan's Western Karakoram and Himalaya suffered its worst setback since the effects of 9/11, when a group of terrorists massacred climbers at Nanga Parbat base camp.

Full details at this stage obviously cannot be confirmed but it appears the most likely course of events is as follows.

This season seven expeditions were attempting the standard Kinshofer Route on the Diamir (north) face of the mountain. An eighth, a team from Romania, was climbing from the Rupal (south) side.

On the Diamir side the climbers, in total more than 50, came from Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Iran, Latvia, Lithuania, Nepal, Pakistan, Poland, Russia, Turkey, and the Ukraine.

A prolonged spell of snowfall had kept teams confined to base camp but by Saturday 22 June, the weather had improved, the mountain was shaking off snow, and most climbers had gone back on the route.

At around 10:30pm that day a group of gunmen, dressed in local police or paramilitary uniform, arrived at the Diamir base camp.

They appear to have tied up the local Pakistan base camp staff, then proceeded to shoot any foreign climbers, leaving three Ukrainians, one Lithuanian, two Slovakians, three Chinese, a Nepalese Sherpa, and a Pakistani dead. It is reported that one Chinese managed to escape unscathed.

Names of these climbers have not yet been released, but there were only two climbers from Slovakia attempting the mountain, Anton Dobes and the highly experience IFMGA guide Peter Sperka. The leader of a large international expedition, Aleksandra (Ola) Dzik, has confirmed that the Lithuanian was Ernest Marksaitis.

Two of the murdered Chinese were Yan Chunfeng and Rao Jianfeng, who were both trying to complete the 14 8,000ers. Yan had already climbed 11, and Rao 10. One of the dead Chinese was a US citizen.

The gunmen, variously reported to be 12-15 in number, took money and documents before making their escape under the cover of darkness.

The Taliban have been quick to claim responsibility for this brutality, saying it was carried out by the Junood ul Hisfa, one of its factions set up to "attack foreigners and convey a message to the world about drone strikes"

It's thought the terrorists kidnapped two Pakistan guides and forced them to lead the way to base camp. One of these was was killed in the shooting.

Local police were alerted to the incident early Sunday and immediately summoned the Pakistan Army, who flew to base camp in helicopters.

Climbers on the mountain descended and have been escorted to Gilgit by the military. Many have already flown from there to Islamabad.

All expeditions on the mountain have been cancelled, except for a three-man team of highly experienced Pakistan mountaineers, who were hoping to make an unsupported ascent of the Kinshofer Route. These three are at base camp and undecided whether to continue. On the far side of the mountain the Romanians are continuing with their climb.

Climbers arriving in Islamabad, and hoping to travel up the Karakoram Highway to Gilgit, are being stopped until officials feel that access to this area has been made secure. The incident should not effect groups operating much further east in the Baltoro region, where access is normally via a flight from Islamabad to Skardu.

An 'unprovoked' attack of this magnitude on a mountaineering base camp seems unprecedented, and makes previous incidents, such as the famous Sendero Luminoso assault on a base camp in the Cordillera Huayhuash during the 1980s, seem almost tame by comparison.

However, last year's incidents, including a Taliban attack on a bus in a nearby area when 20 passengers were killed, shows strong presence of terrorists in this region.
 



« Back

Post a comment Print this article

This article has been read 4215 times

TAGS

Click on the tags to explore more

RELATED ARTICLES

The most impressive traverse ever completed?
0
The most impressive traverse ever completed?

Belgian climber Sean Villanueva O'Driscoll has been willingly stuck in Patagonia since Covid-19 kicked off, and making the most of it: jaws dropped around the climbing world when he became the first to solo the Fitz Roy Traverse late last week. This epic route, fantasised about by anyone who has ever seen a photo of the jagged skyline above El Chalten, was first completed by the dream simul-climbing team of Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell in 2014. The route traverses the iconic Cerro Fitz Roy and its six satellite peaks: 5km of ridge line with around 4000m of vertical gain.
Read more »

Apply for a BMC expedition grant
1
Apply for a BMC expedition grant

An introduction to BMC and MEF mountaineering grants.
Read more »

Mountain tiger: a tribute to Tom Ballard
1
Mountain tiger: a tribute to Tom Ballard

Tom Ballard, a prolific and talented British climber, died on Nanga Parbat with his Italian climbing partner Daniele Nardi. We pay tribute to Tom, the son of another very talented climber who also died in the mountains: Alison Hargreaves.
Read more »

Post a Comment

Posting as Anonymous Community Standards
3000 characters remaining
Submit
Your comment has been posted below, click here to view it
Comments are currently on | Turn off comments
0

There are currently no comments, why not add your own?

RELATED ARTICLES

The most impressive traverse ever completed?
0

Belgian climber Sean Villanueva O'Driscoll has been willingly stuck in Patagonia since Covid-19 kicked off, and making the most of it: jaws dropped around the climbing world when he became the first to solo the Fitz Roy Traverse late last week. This epic route, fantasised about by anyone who has ever seen a photo of the jagged skyline above El Chalten, was first completed by the dream simul-climbing team of Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell in 2014. The route traverses the iconic Cerro Fitz Roy and its six satellite peaks: 5km of ridge line with around 4000m of vertical gain.
Read more »

Apply for a BMC expedition grant
1

An introduction to BMC and MEF mountaineering grants.
Read more »

Mountain tiger: a tribute to Tom Ballard
1

Tom Ballard, a prolific and talented British climber, died on Nanga Parbat with his Italian climbing partner Daniele Nardi. We pay tribute to Tom, the son of another very talented climber who also died in the mountains: Alison Hargreaves.
Read more »

BMC MEMBERSHIP
Join 82,000 BMC members and support British climbing, walking and mountaineering. Membership only £16.97.
Read more »
BMC SHOP
Great range of guidebooks, DVDs, books, calendars and maps.
All with discounts for members.
Read more »
TRAVEL INSURANCE
Get covered with BMC Insurance. Our five policies take you from the beach to Everest.
Read more »