News Flash: The following news flash is a preliminary report posted as a service to our readers. Alpinist will post updates as the situation changes.-Ed.
[Photo] Mt. Elbrus courtesy of Mountain Madness/Savejko Photo.
Russian presidential envoy Alexander Khloponin has suspended tourism around Mt. Elbrus in response to multiple terrorist attacks in the area over the weekend. Reports say three people were killed and two more were injured when unidentified assailants fired on a van carrying tourists to the Mt. Elbrus ski area in Kabardino-Balkaria. An explosion on Friday evening caused 45 gondola cars to fall from lift towers on the mountain, although luckily nobody was injured from the event. Police also diffused three bombs in a car outside a hotel at the nearby ski area of Mt. Cheget.
On Tuesday, Nikolai Sintsoz, spokesman for Russia’s national anti-terrorism committee, reported that police forces had shot and killed three militants involved with the terrorist activity. Searching resumed this morning for at least four other militants who had escaped.
At 5642m, Mt Elbrus is the highest peak in Europe and one of the the world’s seven summits. Besides climbers attempting its summit, the mountain also draws skiers and tourists to its moderate lower slopes throughout the year. Mark Gunlogson of Mountain Madness told Alpinist, that the company has never been forced to cancel an Elbrus climb due to the political climate but always kept a close eye on the region. But Gunlogson noted that in the past such activity had not occurred on the mountain itself.