Envoys of Norway, Philippines among 6 killed as Pak Taliban downs military copter
08 May 2015
Pakistani Taliban claims to have shot down a Pakistani military helicopter, killing six people, including the envoys of Norway and the Philippines.
The incident occurred in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and the helicopter crashed into a school with children inside and set the building ablaze.
Besides Leif H Larsen, the Norwegian envoy, and Domingo D Lucenario Jr of the Philippines the dead included the wives of the Malaysian and Indonesian ambassadors, as well as the helicopter's two pilots, according to the army.
Polish ambassador Andrzej Ananiczolish and Dutch ambassador Marcel de Vink were also injured, the army added.
Army and local officials have warned that casualties could rise, although they have not confirmed any.
The Pakistani Taliban today claimed responsibility for shooting down the helicopter, and reports said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was their target.
"The helicopter was shot down by an anti-aircraft missile, killing pilots and many foreign ambassadors," an Urdu-language statement emailed by their main spokesman Muhammad Khorasani said.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was reportedly travelling to the mountainous northern region of Gilgit on a separate aircraft to launch two projects when the accident happened. The prime minister has since returned to Islamabad, his office said.
The helicopter that was shot down was one of three carrying a delegation of envoys to inspect projects on a three-day trip to the Gilgit-Baltistan territory where they were to meet with Prime Minister Sharif.
Gilgit-Baltistan, with its spectacular mountain ranges and unique culture, is a strategically important region that borders China and Afghanistan, but it is not known as a stronghold of the Pakistani militant outfit.