Update as of 7:18 a.m.: Pakistan's defense minister, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, said that initial reports suggest that the helicopter crash in northern Pakistan on Friday, which killed six people, was due to a "technical fault." Asif did not make any references to the Taliban’s claims of shooting down the aircraft.
The crash killed the ambassadors of Norway and the Philippines, the wives of the ambassadors of Malaysia and Indonesia, and the helicopter's two pilots. Taliban spokesman Muhammad Khurasani had said, according to Reuters, that the group had intended to target Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s plane, which turned back after the helicopter carrying the foreign diplomats crashed.
Six people, including the ambassadors of Norway and the Philippines, have been killed after an army helicopter was shot down in northern Pakistan on Friday, the Associated Press (AP) reported. The Pakistani Taliban issued a statement Friday claiming responsibility for the attack, but the claims could not be verified, the report added.
The wives of the ambassadors of Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as the aircraft's two pilots were among those killed when it was brought down in Gilgit province in northern Pakistan. The dead ambassadors were identified as Leif H Larsen from Norway and Domingo D Lucenario Jr of the Philippines, according to the Express Tribune, a local newspaper. The ambassadors of Poland and the Netherlands were among those injured, Reuters reported.
"The helicopter was shot down by an anti-aircraft missile, killing pilots and many foreign ambassadors," an Urdu-language statement emailed by the group's main spokesman Muhammad Khorasani said on Friday, according to Press TV, an Iranian network. "A special group of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan had prepared a special plan to target Nawaz Sharif during his visit but he survived because he was travelling in another helicopter."
Overall, there were 11 foreigners and six Pakistani nationals on board the helicopter. The delegation had left from Nur Khan Airbase in Rawalpindi and the Express Tribune report added that 57 people, including five children, were part of a larger party headed to Gilgit in three choppers, one of which crashed.
“It was a diplomatic trip with members of 37 countries in total,” a passenger in one of the helicopters, said, according to Daily Pakistan, a local newspaper.
Reports also said that the helicopter crashed into a local school in the area, adding that there was a fire at the school after the crash.
“We have been told to send in as many ambulances as we can because the situation there is ‘urgent’,” a senior official told the Daily Pakistan. The injured were taken to the Combined Military Hospital in Gilgit to be treated, according to the Express Tribune.
According to a report by Geo TV, a local news network, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif too was on his way to the Naltar valley -- where the plane crashed -- but his plane turned back after the crash.