Spanish cyclist says bodyguards killed in Pakistan were not with him

"At the time of the attack on the vehicle I was in, we were alone on the road”

Javier Colorado, who is undergoing a two-year round-the-world cycling trip.
Javier Colorado, who is undergoing a two-year round-the-world cycling trip.WEB DE J. COLORADO

It took eight days before Francisco Javier Colorado, the Spanish cyclist who was attacked in Pakistan during a round-the-world journey, was able to give his own version of events.

Contrary to what the Spanish Foreign Ministry stated on January 22 — that seven policemen had died as they tried to protect the cyclist from a kidnapping attempt — Colorado is now claiming that the dead guards “bear no relation” to the attack in which he was targeted.

“At the time of the attack on the vehicle I was in, we were alone on the road,” said the 27-year-old Madrileño. “Both the driver and the [single] bodyguard with me made it out alive. The only person who was slightly injured was me,” writes Colorado via his Facebook account. “It wasn’t a kidnap attempt — it was an assassination attempt.”

The video of the attack in Pakistan, as recorded by Javier Colorado and posted on his YouTube account (Spanish language).

Asked about these contradictory versions, sources at the Foreign Ministry referred EL PAÍS back to the press release they issued on January 22. This note picked up on statement by Rehman Gailani, the interior secretary of Baluchistan, the region where the attack took place, who said that the attackers “wanted to kidnap the Spanish tourist.”

Reuters also reported that the government of Pakistan had assigned 12 bodyguards to the cyclist because the area he was traveling through is a dangerous hotbed of Taliban, jihadists, kidnappers, insurgents, paramilitary units and drug traffickers.

“Protection was an imperative of the Pakistani authorities and I will be eternally grateful for it,” writes Colorado, adding that bodyguards are assigned to travelers across the territory as a matter of course — “and not exclusively to me, not at all.” According to his own version of events, the seven men who reportedly died were not protecting him at the time of the grenade attack.

Grenade attack

The Spaniard — who decided to continue with his journey after the incident, and reached New Delhi on Thursday — explained that he had crossed the border between Iran and Pakistan with the idea of getting on a bus. Once in the city of Mastung, “I followed the advice of the Pakistani Army and traveled in a convoy.” One day after witnessing the aftermath of an explosion that blew up a bus, killing all 24 passengers, Colorado says he decided to cover the next leg of the journey in a truck with a driver and one bodyguard.

“I sat in the back, and after a few minutes someone hurled a grenade against our vehicle; it went off a few meters away, and some shrapnel got lodged in my head,” he goes on to say.

On the day of the attack and the foreign ministry’s release, Colorado had simply stated that “it wasn’t a kidnap attempt. They tried to kill me.” But he made no comment about the seven dead guards.

Colorado, a graduate in chemical engineering, embarked on a two-year tour of the world on October 1. He is calling his adventure Colorado on the Road, and is posting updates on Facebook.

The attack took place in an area that the Spanish Foreign Ministry describes as “very dangerous.” It furthermore recommends that people avoid traveling to Pakistan “save for reasons of extreme urgency and necessity,” and notes that “there is a serious kidnap risk for foreign citizens in the entire country.”

Baluchistan has been the site of numerous terrorist attacks, accounting for more than 600 deaths last year alone.

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