Daily Pakistan reports that the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan organization has claimed responsibility for a deadly helicopter crash in the mountainous region of Gilgit-Baltistan.
Seven people were killed when the Pakistani military helicopter went down, including the Philippine and Norwegian ambassadors, the wives of the Indonesian and Malaysian ambassadors, two pilots, and a crew member. Five others were reportedly injured.
“ARY news, a local news channel, reported the presence of suspicious personnel in the vicinity of the crash site,” writes Daily Pakistan. “Some segments of the Urdu media have also published a statement by Taliban commander Khurrasani in which he has promised to soon unveil the missile used in the attack. According to the statement, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was the target.”
The report goes on to say that Sharif was traveling to the Gilgit region at the time, but in a different helicopter.
The Pakistani government maintains that the helicopter crashed due to a technical fault, specifically a problem with the tail rotor, rather than hostile action. A Pakistani journalist who witnessed the crash from another helicopter said that “there were heavy winds that led to the helicopter going out of control.”
According to the BBC, the crash is “one of the most tragic aviation disasters for the Pakistani military in decades” and the first one involving the death of a foreign diplomat since 1988.
The diplomats were en route to the inauguration of Pakistan’s second ski resort chairlift system. The first was destroyed by the Taliban. The area around this particular resort has been considered safe from Taliban militants.
When the helicopter came down, it crashed into an army school, but no children were in attendance at the time.