Pakistani Talibans claim they shot down the helicopter carrying diplomats which crashed in the north-east of the country on Friday. Neither the Belgian ambassador to Pakistan nor his family were involved in the crash. The ambassador was on the same trip but was on board another helicopter, revealed the Foreign secretary Didier Reynders. 6 people (2 pilots and 4 foreigners, including the ambassadors for Norway and the Philippines) died in the military helicopter crash in the Naltar valley, an isolated part of the Gilgit-Baltistan region (in the north-east), the least infiltrated by Talibans, on Friday morning. 11 internationals and 6 Pakistanis were on board the aircraft. The ambassadors for the Netherlands and Poland were amongst the wounded.
In a press release, Pakistani Talibans from the TTP, always the first to claim responsibility for spectacular attacks, say they shot down the aircraft with an air-to-surface missile, which they seldom use, in a Himalayan zone under the strict control of the Pakistani army.
A delegation of diplomats, ambassadors, and journalists, travelling on board 3 different helicopters, were on their way to a ceremony in the district, where Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was expected to speak. The rebels say they were targeting the prime minister.
The aircraft crashed on a very remote village in the north-east of the country, where Islamists rebels are not known to go.
Minister Reynders expressed his condolences to the countries of the victims.
Christopher Vincent (Source: Belga)