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Seven security guards killed in Pakistan attack on Spanish round-the-world cyclist

Police escort came under fire in highly volatile Balochistan province

Francisco Javier Colorado, pictured in Iran.
Francisco Javier Colorado, pictured in Iran.

A Spanish cyclist attempting to traverse the globe survived a suspected kidnap attempt in the volatile Pakistan province of Balochistan on Wednesday. Francisco Javier Colorado Soriano, 27, was being escorted through Mastung district by a 12-man police security team in two vehicles, which was assaulted about 50 kilometers west of the provincial capital, Quetta, at around 10am.

Seven members of the escort were killed outright and five more wounded in the attack. Colorado escaped with minor injuries. Nine bystanders were also hurt and one of the assailants, an insurgent of Uzbek origin, was also killed. A day earlier, 28 people were killed in a bomb attack against a bus carrying Shia pilgrims through the area.

“It wasn’t a kidnap attempt,” Colorado said from a hotel in Lahore, where he had been flown by the Pakistan authorities. “It was an assassination attempt. They threw a grenade at me. I don’t think people attempt kidnaps like that.”

It was an assassination attempt. They threw a grenade at me"

The Spaniard had entered Pakistan from Iran on Tuesday evening. “Now in Pakistan, with 10,000 kilometers covered since October 1. Next stop, Islamabad,” Colorado had posted on a social network page. Spain’s foreign minister and Balochistan’s interior secretary, Rehman Gailani, agreed that the attack had been carried out with the aim of kidnapping Colorado. The Interior Ministry advises travelers to avoid the area “except for reasons of extreme urgency and necessity,” noting that a “high risk of a foreign national being kidnapped exists in the entire country.”

The area is notorious for attacks by Balochistani insurgents and other armed groups. Last year more than 600 people were killed in the region.

Colorado began his journey in Madrid and plans to travel across the world over the course of two years. He said he has no plans to abandon his attempt and will continue on to India after staying overnight in Lahore.