MADRID - Three Spanish climbers who went missing in the mountains of northern Pakistan earlier this week were pronounced dead on Friday, their colleagues on the expedition said.

"After losing contact with them on the morning of July 22 and given the adverse climactic conditions at altitude in the following days, we made one more flight search that confirmed our worst fears: the three have died," they said in a statement.

The organiser of the expedition, Javier Garrido, had contacted the three mountaineers, Abel Alonso, Xevi Gomez and Alvaro Paredes, for the last time on Monday when they were sheltered close to base camp.

The group was descending towards the Gasherbrum-I peak last weekend when four of them lost the rest of the team, the president of the Pakistani Alpine Federation, Manzoor Hussain, had told AFP on Tuesday. "One of the four mountaineers who were lost managed to find the path and returned to base camp," he said.

"The other three disappeared. No one knows where they are. It appears they were caught in a snow storm."

Earlier this week Pakistani authorities also abandoned the search for three Iranian mountaineers who disappeared while attempting to scale a mountain known as Broad Peak. The three Spaniards' colleagues published the statement on the blog of Alfredo Garcia, who had been briefly missing before managing to return to the base camp.

Earlier, speaking in Islamabad, a Romanian mountaineer who scaled Pakistan's second highest peak despite an attack on a base camp that killed 10 foreign trekkers called for more security to protect expeditions.

Zsolt Torok, who was in a group of five Romanian climbers, told journalists in Islamabad that his party pressed on with their expedition despite the June 22 attack claimed by the Taliban.

An American-Chinese climber, two other Chinese, three Ukrainians, two Slovakians, a Lithuanian, a Nepalese and a Pakistani were killed at the foot of Nanga Parbat, a notoriously treacherous peak nicknamed ‘killer mountain’.

"The news about the killing of foreign climbers shocked us all but we did not give up our mission and Nanga Parbat proved to be a very good experience for us," Torok told the news conference.

He said that his team scaled the peak from the south side, some distance from the western side where the mountaineers were killed.

He and three other members of the Romanian team reached the 8,126-metre summit on July 19.

"The expedition involved a lot of preparatory work and money. So it was not easy for us to say that we are scared and going back home," the 39-year-old told reporters.

The June 22 attack, the worst on foreigners in Pakistan for a decade, was a major blow to foreign trekking expeditions, which provide the last vestige of international tourism in the country.

Arad said that while he had been satisfied with security, he cautioned the authorities to do more to keep expeditions alive.

"I would certainly love to come back... Pakistan has very famous and beautiful mountains and beautiful areas," he told reporters.

"Tourism is (a) very important area and there should be more security for foreign tourists in the country," he added.