Cyclist rejects blame for Pakistani cop deaths

A Spanish around-the-world cyclist has released a gripping account of the moment he came under attack and was hit by shrapnel while crossing Pakistan. He's also denied any implication in the death of six policemen who were allegedly acting as his bodyguards.

Cyclist rejects blame for Pakistani cop deaths
"The deplorable deaths of the six officers had nothing to do with the events in which I was a victim," Colorado said in his version of the attack, in a YouTube video. Photo: YouTube

Bearded cyclist Javier Colorado denied Pakistan's version that six police guards were killed when militants opened fire on him on January 22 in the volatile southwestern province of Baluchistan. 

"The deplorable deaths of the six officers had nothing to do with the events in which I was a victim," Colorado said in his version of the attack, released at the end of January on his Facebook account and blog along with a video on YouTube.

The cyclist, a 27-year-old from Madrid according to Spanish media, said the six police actually died in a separate attack the previous day, in which a bomb killed 24 Shiite Muslim pilgrims on a bus travelling nearby on the same road.

Colorado said police were driving him with his belongings, including his bicycle, in a covered pickup van when he saw the bus explosion.

Go to 6:45 for moment of explosion

In a video released on his YouTube account, a huge ball of flame can be seen erupting in the distance behind the police van.

Apparently frightened and breathless, the Spanish cyclist can be seen crouching for cover by a stone wall near the police van as the sound of gunfire crackles nearby.

After spending the night in a nearby police station, his journey continues in a van with a driver and armed police guard.

Soon after, the video shows Colorado lying on the floor of the police vehicle saying: "They shot at us, they shot at us. I am bleeding." Apparently hit by shrapnel from a grenade,

Colorado said he was treated for a light injury at a nearby clinic and then at a military hospital in Quetta.

Colorado said he had to cross Pakistan by road after missing a once-a-month train when he arrived late at the border after a journey through Iran.

Pakistani police advised him that taking a bus was too dangerous, and instead officers took him and his bicycle in police vehicles.

Pakistani officials told AFP last month that a Spanish cyclist had been attacked by gunmen as he entered Pakistan from Iran.

The officials said six local tribal police officials were killed and five wounded in an ensuing exchange of gunfire, in which one militant was also killed.

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Rescuers seek Spanish climbers in Pakistan

A rescue operation was under way on Tuesday for three Spanish climbers who went missing in bad weather in the mountains of northern Pakistan, officials said.

Rescuers seek Spanish climbers in Pakistan
Poor weather conditions are hampering rescue efforts on Pakistan's 8,068-metre (26,469-foot) Gasherbrum-I peak (pictured). File photo: allanv/Flickr

Four Spaniards went missing on Sunday after scaling the 8,068-metre (26,469-foot) Gasherbrum-I peak in the Karakoram range, Manzoor Hussain, chief of the Alpine Club of Pakistan that coordinated the expedition, told AFP.

The climbers are Abel Alonso, from Pontevedra; Álvaro Paredes, from Valladolid, and Xevi Gomez, de Sarriá de Ter from Gerona, according to Spanish news agency EFE.

All these climbers are very experienced according to the Javier Garrido of Aragón Aventura which organized the expedition.

"We came to know about the four missing Spanish climbers today due to communication problems," Hussain said.

Anwar Ali of Lela Peak Expedition, the company running the trip, told AFP that one of the climbers had managed to make it back to base camp but the other three were still missing.

Hussain said search teams and other members of the expedition were looking for them.

"They have requested a search helicopter, but the weather is bad today and tomorrow also," he said.

"The chances of a helicopter search and rescue mission tomorrow (on Wednesday) are slim."

The missing Spanish climbers are part of a group of eleven mountaineers, most of the Spanish.

Three Iranian climbers went missing on another mountain last week and rescuers had called off the search for them, but at the insistence of the Iranian embassy another search effort was mounted on Tuesday, Hussain said, but to no avail.

The Iranians sent a distress call just after reaching the summit of the 8,051-metre Broad Peak on July 16.

"Today a helicopter was sent again on the mission but it could not find anyone and returned due to bad weather," Hussain said.

Pakistan is home to five of the world's 14 peaks over 8,000 metres, including the world's second-highest mountain, K2, but conditions are harsh and deaths not uncommon.

Last month Pakistan suspended expeditions to its second-highest peak Nanga Parbat after Islamist gunmen shot dead ten foreign trekkers.