August 6, 2013 / 12:23 PM / 6 years ago

Taliban kill Pakistan officers probing massacre of foreign climbers

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - Pakistan-based Taliban fighters opened fire on a group of police officers investigating a June massacre of foreign climbers, killing three, officials said on Tuesday.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the June 22-23 pre-dawn attack when gunmen dressed as policemen stormed a base camp on Pakistan’s second-highest peak of Nanga Parbat, killing 10 foreign climbers and a local guide.

The attack shocked the international climbing community and several expeditions to Pakistan have been canceled, depriving its starving economy of much-needed cash at the height of the climbing season.

A group of Pakistani officers investigating the massacre came under attack in the troubled Diamar district of Gilgit-Baltistan province of northern Pakistan late on Monday. Gunmen opened fire on their motorcade.

“Though no major arrests have been made so far related to the June 23 shooting of foreigners, these officials were investigating the killings of foreigners,” a senior security official told Reuters.

A Pakistani Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack on police.

Victims of the mountain assault included climbers from China, Lithuania, Nepal, Slovakia, Ukraine and one person with joint U.S.-Chinese citizenship. One Chinese climber escaped.

Nanga Parbat, one of the world’s highest mountains, is popular among international mountaineers because of its challenging terrain, but growing violence has damaged the potentially lucrative tourism industry.

Once-peaceful areas of northern Pakistan where the mountain is located are increasingly infiltrated by militants seeking to gain footholds beyond their traditional hideouts on Pakistan’s porous border with Afghanistan.

Reporting by Jibran Ahmad; Writing by Maria Golovnina

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