ISLAMABAD - A militant accused over one of country’s most notorious recent terror attacks, the massacre of 10 foreign climbers in the far north in 2013, escaped from jail on Friday, officials said.

Gunmen stormed base camp at Nanga Parbat , Pakistan’s second-highest mountain, in June 2013 and shot dead the mountaineers along with their Pakistani guide in an attack that shocked the world and badly damaged Pakistan’s climbing tourism industry.

One of the key suspects, Habib-ur-Rehman, managed to escape from prison in Gilgit in the early hours of Friday morning, along with another inmate held over a different attack on security forces.  Two other prisoners tried to escape with them, but one was recaptured and the other, also accused over the Nanga Parbat massacre, was killed. “Four militants jailed in the district prison of Gilgit attempted to escape.

They were countered by forces but two of them succeeded in their attempt,” Liaquat Ali, a senior administration official in Gilgit, told AFP by telephone.

The escaped militants were awaiting trial over the attacks. “Among them, one was Habib-ur-Rehman, accused of killing foreign mountaineers on Nanga Parbat in 2013 and the other inmate Liaquat was involved in an attack on security forces in Chilas region.” Ali said they broke out at around 2:45 am and security forces have cordoned off the area as the search for the escapees.

Another senior official in the district, Muhammad Ajmal Bhatti, confirmed the incident and said the authorities had “locked down the city to comb for the escaped militants”.

The four had dug a tunnel from their barracks to the wall of the prison, another jail official said on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to talk to the media.

The two who escaped were among about a dozen suspected Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militants jailed while on trial for the Nanga Parbat massacre, said Sultan Faisal, the prison’s deputy inspector general, adding that two jail officials had been suspended pending an investigation.

Victims of the mountain assault included climbers from China, Lithuania, Nepal, Slovakia, Ukraine and one person with joint U.S.-Chinese citizenship. One Chinese climber escaped.

The Pakistani Taliban originally claimed responsibility for the slaughter by gunmen dressed as police officers, but most of those arrested allegedly belong to Lashkar-e-Jhangi.

Northern Pakistan is home to some of the world’s tallest mountains, including K2, the world’s second-highest peak.

Mountaineers have long been drawn to the area by the challenging climbs, but tourism was badly hit by the Nanga Parbat killings. On Monday police announced the creation of a new 50-strong specialist high-altitude unit in a bid to protect climbers and trekkers in the northern Gilgit-Baltistan region.

Militant groups have organised several mass jailbreaks in Pakistan in recent years, including one in the northwestern town of Bannu in 2012 that sprung 400 prisoners.

Monitoring Desk adds: According to BBC, authorities in Gilgit Baltistan arrested 13 people including prison officials following the jail break.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sharif expressed anger over the escape of two terrorists from a jail in Gilgit-Baltistan on Friday.

Reprimanding the Gilgit Baltistan government over this security lapse, the prime minsiter directed it to fix responsibility in this important matter as the escaped terrorists had been involved in the murder of foreign tourists.

The prime minister also directed the authorities concerned to bring the culprits to book as soon as possible.

The prime minister questioned if lack of security personnel was a cause behind the incident then why the Gilgit Baltistan administration had not contacted the federal government for timely appropriate reinforcements.