ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan received at the Air Marshal Nur Khan Air Base in Rawalpindi on Sunday the bodies of 10 members of a trekking expedition killed in a terrorist attack in Gilgit-Baltistan. The ambassadors of China and Ukraine and officials of the Nepalese and Russian embassies were also at the base to receive the bodies. According to a handout, the minister conveyed his condolences to the dignitaries of the embassies and said the objective of the attack appeared to be to tarnish the image of Pakistan and damage tourism in the country.
He said the bodies of two Chinese nationals, a Nepalese and a Chinese-American had been identified.
The minister said a joint investigation team would investigate the matter to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Chaudhry Nisar said the prime minister had issued special instructions to make arrangements of transportation of the bodies to their countries and a minister would accompany them.
Chaudhry Nisar praised the role played by the armed forces in retrieving the bodies.
Agencies add: Matt Boland, acting spokesperson for the US embassy, confirmed that an American citizen had been killed in the attack and extended condolence to the families of the tourists.
Ukraine’s Ambassador Vladimir Lakomov told reporters outside the hospital where the bodies were taken: “We hope Pakistani authorities will do their best to find the culprits of this crime.”
The interior minister conceded that there was no security escort for foreigners in that area.
President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the “inhuman and cruel acts”. The prime minister ordered a thorough investigation and called for the culprits to be brought to justice.
“Those who have committed this heinous crime seem to be attempting to disrupt the growing relations of Pakistan with China and other friendly countries,” a statement issued by the Foreign Office spokesman said.
“The government of Pakistan expresses its deep sense of shock and grief on this brutal act of terrorism, and extends its sympathy to the families of the victims.”
The special assistant to the prime minister on foreign affairs and the foreign secretary spoke to the ambassadors of China and Ukraine and condoled the death of the tourists from the two countries.