ISLAMABAD -- The ambassadors to Pakistan from the Philippines and Norway and the wives of the ambassadors from Malaysia and Indonesia were killed Friday when a Pakistani army helicopter carrying foreign dignitaries made a crash landing in the country's north, the military said.
The army's spokesman, Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa, tweeted that the MI-17 helicopter made the emergency landing in the northern area of Naltar. The helicopter's two pilots were also killed, he said, adding that the 13 surviving passengers, including the Dutch and Polish ambassadors, received "varying degree of injuries."
The helicopter was on route to the city of Gilgit where Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was to attend a public ceremony to inaugurate the newly installed chair-lift at a ski resort. Sharif was in his own plane on route 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.
Sharif, in his statement, expressed his "deep grief and sorrow over the tragic incident" and said he "extended heartfelt condolences to those who lost their lives in this incident."
The Pakistani Talban 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 Pakistani military did not immediately respond to queries about the Taliban claim.