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Family members grieve after a climber was killed.

Family members grieve over a photo of Sona Sherpa, a climber who was murdered by Taliban militants at the Nanga Parbat base camp in Pakistan on Sunday.

Photograph by Prakash Mathema, AFP/Getty Images

Jane J. Lee

National Geographic

Published June 24, 2013

Nine mountain climbers, including one U.S. citizen, and their local guide were killed in the pre-dawn hours of June 23 at the Nanga Parbat base camp in northern Pakistan. The camp sits in a remote area at the base of what is, at 26,300 feet (8,020 meters), the ninth tallest mountain in the world.

The forbidding surrounding terrain—it's a two-day hike to reach the camp—has only highlighted the determination of the attackers to carry out their grim act, according to reports from the Voice of America.

News reports from the BBC state the Taliban has claimed responsibility, saying the attacks were in retaliation for suspected U.S. drone strikes that killed the Taliban's second-in-command in May.

Unfortunately, this most recent incident is only the latest in a long line of politically motivated attacks against athletes and sporting events.

2013 Boston Marathon Bombing

The Boston Marathon bombing in April killed three and injured more than 170 people, rattling an entire country. (Related: "Boston Marathon Injuries Echo War Zone.")

A note left by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev—one of the bombing suspects—in the boat that he hid in while injured suggested the attacks were in retaliation for the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to USA Today.

2010 World Cup Fans Attacked in Uganda

At 10:30 p.m. on July 11, 2010, at least three bombs exploded in Kampala, Uganda (map), near where people were watching a World Cup soccer match between Spain and the Netherlands.

According to the New York Times, at least 50 people were killed in attacks that targeted a restaurant and a large rugby field.

The Washington Post reported that the militant Somali group al-Shabab, which has been linked to al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attacks.

2009 Ambush of Sri Lankan Cricket Team

On March 3, 2009, the Sri Lankan cricket team was on its way to Qaddafi Stadium in Lahore, Pakistan, when 12 gunmen ambushed a bus carrying the athletes at a traffic circle near the stadium.

Eight people died in the attack—including six police officers and two bystanders—and at least six athletes were injured.

Reports from the Associated Press indicated the gunmen were armed with submachine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, pistols, 25 hand grenades, and plastic explosives. Some of the gunmen fled the scene in motorized rickshaws.

The Sri Lankan squad was one of the few international cricket teams that had decided to compete in matches hosted by Pakistan. Teams from India, Australia, and Britain had previously refused to travel to Pakistan, stating security concerns.

2008 Sri Lanka Marathon

On April 6, 2008, a suicide bomber detonated a device at the start of a Sri Lankan marathon in Waliweriaya (map), killing 14 people, including highway minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, according to reports in the New York Times.

The attack, blamed on rebel group the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, also injured almost a hundred people.

2002 Madrid Soccer Bombing

On May 1, 2002, a car bomb exploded near Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, just hours before Real Madrid was to play Barcelona in the European Champions League final.

A second car bomb exploded a half hour later about one mile (1.6 kilometers) away.

Basque separatist group ETA took responsibility for the attack, which injured 17 people.

Officials went ahead with the game, and an estimated 75,000 people showed up to cheer for their teams, according to a CNN report.

1996 Atlanta Olympics

At 1:20 a.m. on July 27, 1996—eight days after that year's Summer Olympics opening ceremonies—a bomb ripped through Centennial Olympic Park, a public entertainment venue in Atlanta, Georgia. Two people died and over a hundred were injured in the blast.

Eric Rudolph, a former explosives expert for the United States Army, confessed to placing the bomb in front of a video screen in the park. He called 911 twice before the bomb was scheduled to go off to warn officials about the explosives, according to an interview in Sports Illustrated.

"The plan was to clear the park, and hopefully after clearing the park and the explosion, this would create a state of instability in Atlanta, potentially shut the Games down or at least eat into the profits that the Games were going to make," Rudolph said in the article. "The idea was to use them as warning devices, not to target people ... In retrospect, it was a poor decision."

Rudolph was caught in 2003 and is currently serving four life terms, without the possibility of parole, at a Colorado prison.

1996 Manchester Bombing

On the morning of June 15, 1996, a cargo van filled with explosives detonated in the middle of a busy shopping center in Manchester, England (map), injuring about 200 people.

England was hosting the 1996 European Football Championship that year, and a match between German and Russian soccer teams was scheduled for the next day in Manchester's stadium.

The Irish Republican Army claimed responsibility for the 3,300-pound bomb, according to news accounts.

1972 Munich Olympics

During the 1972 Munich Games, the Palestinian militant group called Black September took the Israeli national team hostage, eventually killing 11 athletes and coaches and one West German police officer.

On September 5, 1972, eight Palestinian militants invaded Olympic Village, killed two members of the Israeli team, and kidnapped nine others, according to several accounts.

After a day of failed negotiations, the captors demanded transportation for them and their hostages to Cairo, Egypt. The Germans agreed to provide the flights, all the while planning a rescue attempt. It was during that attempt that the remaining hostages were killed, as well as the German police officer. Five Palestinians also died.

Follow Jane J. Lee on Twitter.

2 comments
First Last
First Last

Yes, it's outrageous that terrorists target athletes. But isn't equally outrageous when those who aren't atheletes--or who aren't interested in sporting events--are also targeted? What makes athletes particularly deserving of our pity?

Jim Ong
Jim Ong

My condolence to the deceased. I don't expect the hatred to dissipate with time, but why do we kill people who doesn't kill people to show them that killing people is wrong? If this cycle of vengeance continues, none will benefit from it.

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