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Judge going to policeman’s funeral survives attack in Diamer

Updated August 06, 2018

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Major General Saqib Mehmud Malik being briefed on the operation in Chilas.—Dawn
Major General Saqib Mehmud Malik being briefed on the operation in Chilas.—Dawn

GILGIT: As the situation remained tense on the third consecutive day amid clashes between police and armed men in Diamer district of Gilgit-Baltistan, a judge going to attend the funeral of a police constable escaped unhurt in a gun attack on Sunday.

District and Sessions Judge Malik Anayatul Rehman was going from Shatial to Tanger tehsil to attend the funeral of martyred constable Arif Hussain when the armed men taking advantage of high ground opened fire on his car. While the vehicle was badly damaged, the judge escaped unharmed in the attack. The armed men, however, hiding in the mountains continued to attack police and other government vehicles to stop them from using the roads leading to Tanger and Darel tehsils of Diamer district. Even locals faced difficulties in passing through the area.

Violence had erupted in the serene valley of Diamer on Friday when extremists opposing girls’ education set fire to more than a dozen schools. One of the girls’ schools had been torched at least five times in recent years.

Unidentified men hiding in mountains open fire at police, government vehicles amid Diamer operation

Just a day ago another school was torched despite a grand operation launched in the area to trace and arrest the culprits following the decision of a meeting attended by senior officials of security forces, law enforcement agencies, civil administration as well as locals. Later a police official was martyred and another official was wounded in an exchange of fire with armed men during a raid on a house in Tanger tehsil.

On Sunday, Force Commander Northern Areas Maj Gen Saqib Mehmud Malik along with Gilgit-Baltistan Inspector General of Police Sanaullah Abbasi visited the district headquarters of Diamer, Chilas, where he was briefed about the ongoing operation. The force commander expressed satisfaction about the success of the operation against the culprits involved in the attacks on the schools.

Police said the prime suspect allegedly involved in torching of girls schools, Shafiq, was killed in Tanger on Sunday. However, sources said the suspect was killed allegedly by the relatives of the policeman who had been attacked during the raid on a house on Saturday.

Shafiq had no known association with any organised militant outfit but was referred to as a “militant” and “militant commander”. He was said to be one of the suspects behind the brazen arson attacks targeting girls’ schools in the Chilas, Darel and Tanger tehsils of Diamer district.

GB government spokesman Faizullah Faraq said that 12 more suspects were arrested on Sunday. So far, he said, 30 suspects had been arrested during the search operation.

The armed men hiding in the mountains of Darel and Tanger had held the local population hostage, said a resident while speaking to Dawn. He said the government would have to ensure its writ in the area as police too hesitated to enter the areas of Darel and Tanger. He added that the locals were looking for ways to flee the area.

Meanwhile, police claimed to have seized a suicide jacket, grenades and arms from a house in Chilas. They said they would continue to conduct raids in various parts of Diamer to track down the culprits.

DIG Nafees said a heavy contingent of security forces had been deployed in Darel. The operation would continue in Diamer to eliminate terrorism, he added.

GB Information Minister Shams Mir said a team of forensic experts from Islamabad had arrived in GB to investigate the arson attacks. He said the experts were part of a joint investigation team constituted to investigate the incidents and track down those behind the attacks.

Force commander briefed on operation

According a press release issued by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Force Commander Northern Areas Maj Gen Saqib Mehmud Malik along with GB’s IGP Sanullah Abbasi on Sunday visited Chilas where they were briefed about the operation by law enforcement agencies.

Expressing satisfaction over the operation success, the force commander said that the operation was going in right direction, and the current situation was under control.

In this difficult stage, he said, people of the area were Pakistan Army, as the locals were fighting extremism. He said if the people and security forces join hands, no miscreants could dare stand against the country. He appreciated the role of martyred police constable Arif Hussain in the operation. He said the police constable was brave. He embraced martyrdom while fighting extremism with bravery. He expressed the hope that the suspects behind the attacks would be arrested soon.

Published in Dawn, August 6th, 2018