The ambassadors to Pakistan from the Philippines and Norway and the wives of the ambassadors from Malaysia and Indonesia were killed today when an army helicopter carrying foreign dignitaries made a crash landing in the country's north, the military says. An army spokesman says the Mi-17 helicopter made the emergency landing in the northern area of Naltar. The helicopter's two pilots were also killed, he says, adding that the 13 surviving passengers, including the Dutch and Polish ambassadors, received a "varying degree of injuries." The helicopter was en route to the city of Gilgit, where Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was to attend a public ceremony to inaugurate the newly installed chairlift at a ski resort.
Sharif was in his own plane heading to Gilgit when the "tragic news" was conveyed to him, according to a statement from the prime minister's office. It said Sharif returned to Islamabad early in the wake of the crash. The Pakistani Taliban issued a statement claiming they had shot down the helicopter with an anti-aircraft missile. It was impossible to immediately verify the claim, and unclear if it was merely an opportunistic attempt to claim responsibility for an unrelated incident. The mountainous area where the helicopter crashed is "inherently risky for aircraft," according to the Guardian, but it isn't an area of Taliban activity. (Read more Pakistan stories.)