Friday, 12 July 2013

The Murdered Climbers in Pakistan were our friends: Maksut Zhumayev

Maksut Zhumayev
Friends of famous Kazakhstan alpinist Maksut Zhumayev were among those killed in the attack in Pakistan-controlled Gilgit-Baltistan on June 23, reports. “One was a close friend. In fact, they were all our friends."

"It doesn’t matter what kind of alpinist you are and where you are from: the U.S., Nepal or Japan. Everyone who climbs mountains are one family. One good alpinist from Ukraine was among the victims. There were people whom I met at Elbrus and they asked me about the route. I gave them recommendations and sent pictures,” Zhumayev said.

The climber said that he was in the area with a Kazakh expedition in 2003. “We were climbing the same route. A local dude came up to our camp on a horse and with a Kalashnikov gun. There is always a possibility that something bad happens in that area. It is close to Chelas where armed conflicts are taking place. This is a horrible situation. We’ve been there, we know,” said the captain of the Kazakhstan alpinism team.

According to RIA Novosti, militants attacked ten tourists in Gilgit province in north Pakistan on June 23. Most of the victims were climbers. Officials said 10 or 12 attackers dressed in police uniforms stormed the base camp at the foot of Nanga Parbat and shot dead the climbers and their Pakistani guide at point-blank range.

The bodies of the victims were later delivered to Islamabad. The victims were identified as an American with dual Chinese citizenship, three Ukrainians, two Slovakians, two more climbers from China, a Lithuanian and a climber from Nepal. Pakistan's umbrella Taliban movement claimed responsibility for the massacre, saying it had set up a new faction, Junood ul-Hifsa, to kill foreigners to avenge U.S. drone strikes on Taliban and Al-Qaeda operatives. It was the worst attack on foreigners in a decade in Pakistan and an unprecedented attack on mountaineers drawn to the intrepid climbing of the north, which until the shootings was considered immune from militancy afflicting other areas.

“Coming like that and shooting the alpinists without any claims, political or other. I don’t know what to say,” Maksut Zhumayev said. “We encountered armed violence against climbers several times in Nepal. They threatened us and demanded money. But things were easier as we could talk to them and explain everything."

"But never before have there been such cruel murders. There should be a big public reaction to this tragedy."