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Nanga Parbat Massacre June 2013

The story begins in early June 2013, when a local jihadist contacted other fighters to tell them two mysterious commanders had arrived from out of town and wanted to meet.

The June 22 2013 Attack at the base camp for the Nanga Parbat, Pakistan’s second-highest mountain, Nicknamed for its treacherous terrain was the deadliest assault on foreigners in the country for a decade killed 10 climbers and a local guide. The climbers were from various countries. A Chinese citizen managed to escape the assailants, and a member of the group from Latvia happened to be outside the camp during the attack. Through interviews with multiple officials, militants and negotiators assigned to bring the culprits out of hiding, AFP has been able to piece together a picture of the events surrounding the slaughter and its aftermath.

 

The story begins in early June 2013, when a local jihadist contacted other fighters to tell them two mysterious commanders had arrived from out of town and wanted to meet. The northern Gilgit-Baltistan region, high in the Himalayas, has been relatively immune to the militant insurgency plaguing the country in recent years. The men met at a house in the town of Chilas, where the two strangers, wearing all-enveloping burqas, were introduced as important Taliban cadres from Afghanistan. The local fighters were briefed on the planned Nanga Parbat operation. “They were told that the mission was about kidnapping a foreigner in order to later bargain for the release of an important Taliban commander,” an investigator assigned to the case said.

 

Militant sources told AFP the Chinese-American was the specific target, with the plan being to trade him for Taliban in Afghanistan. The men then met a local sectarian group in a forest, recruiting two more fighters against the sectarian group leader’s wishes to bring their number to 10. They left for the Nanga Parbat base camp in the early evening, wearing the uniforms of the Gilgit Scouts, a paramilitary police unit. The two burqa-clad commanders had taken off their burqas and were in military uniforms like the rest of us but their faces were covered with a cloth, a militant source told AFP, explaining that they were supposed to grab the target.

 

But as the attack unfolded in the freezing night, Chen burst out of his tent and tackled one of the militants using martial arts techniques. The militant, named Mujeeb, panicked and shot him, destroying the main purpose of the mission and infuriating the shadowy masked commanders. The remaining climbers were then tied up and shot one by one. It all happened because of Mujeeb,” said a local source who spoke on condition of anonymity. The actual plan had been to kidnap a Chinese-American but his reaction led to the killing of himself and 10 others. This account was corroborated by two officials from the team investigating the attack.

 

After the slaughter, the attackers walked for five hours to a remote village where they buried their uniforms and had breakfast before walking on to another village and dispersing.  More than four months went by before authorities made their first arrests in the case. A total of 18 people were detained, of whom five are still in custody but several militant sources say only one of them was involved in the attack, while the rest were forced to confess. Mujeeb remains in hiding in the forests of the district, where from time to time he makes audio recordings of jihadist poetry that find their way to the markets of Gilgit town.

 

 

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