In the wake of the 2013 Nanga Parbat murders, Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan government has formed a police force to provide better security for climbers, reports Pakistan Today.
Gilgit-Baltistan, a northern territory of Pakistan, is a popular destination for climbers—it’s the meeting point of the Himalayas, Handukuch, and Karakoram mountain ranges. On June 22, 2013, 11 climbers at the Nanga Parbat base camp were killed by members of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, a Sunni Muslim branch unaffiliated with the Afghan Taliban.
Pakistan Today reports that the regional government has put together the High Altitude Police Unit to ensure the safety of climbers scaling the different peaks. Inspector General of Police Zafar Iqbal Awan made the announcement on Sunday. “The High Altitude Police Unit has been established with 50 policemen initially, which will later be expanded,” Gilgit-Balistan police spokesperson Mubarak Jan told the AFP.
Professional climbers will train the unit to operate in extreme weather and at high altitudes; all members have been trained in hiking and snow sports. They will accompany foreign expeditions climbing Nanga Parbat, K2, and other peaks, according to Dawn. Citing security concerns, many trekking and expedition groups canceled tours after the 2013 murders, costing the region valuable tourism dollars.
“Because of the ongoing military offensive in the country, there is a high risk of reprisal attacks, and we can’t afford to repeat any incident like Nanga Parbat,” Jan told the AFP.