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Taliban kill 10 foreign climbers, Pakistani guide

By Zarar Khan

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, June 23 2013 11:01 p.m. MDT

The interior minister promised to take all measures to ensure the safety of tourists as he addressed the National Assembly, which passed a resolution condemning the attack.

"A lot of tourists come to this area in the summer, and our local people work to earn money from these people," said Syed Mehdi Shah, the chief minister of Gilgit-Baltistan. "This will not only affect our area, but will adversely affect all of Pakistan."

He said the base camp was cordoned off by police and paramilitary soldiers after the attack, and a military helicopter searched the area.

Volodymyr Lakomov, the Ukrainian ambassador to Pakistan, also condemned the attack and said, "We hope Pakistani authorities will do their best to find the culprits of this crime."

Many foreign tourists stay away from Pakistan because of the country's reputation as being a dangerous place. But a relatively small number of intrepid foreigners visit Gilgit-Baltistan during the summer to marvel at the towering peaks in the Himalayan and Karakoram ranges, including K2, the second-highest mountain in the world.

A few try to climb them. The world's ninth-highest mountain, Nanga Parbat is 8,126 meters (26,660 feet) tall and is notoriously difficult to summit. It is known as the "killer mountain" because of numerous mountaineering deaths in the past.

Pakistan has very close ties with neighboring China and is sensitive to any issue that could harm the relationship. Pakistani officials have reached out to representatives from China and Ukraine to convey their sympathies, the Foreign Ministry said.

The government suspended the chief secretary and top police chief in Gilgit-Baltistan following the attack and ordered an inquiry into the incident, said Khan, the interior minister.

The shooting was one of the worst attacks on foreigners in Pakistan in the last decade. A suicide attack outside a hotel in the southern city of Karachi killed 11 French engineers in 2002. In 2009, gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team in the eastern city of Lahore, killing six Pakistani policemen, a driver and wounding several players.

Associated Press writer Rasool Dawar contributed to this report from Peshawar, Pakistan.

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