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GILGIT: Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman on Monday said that four suspected militants believed to be involved in torching of girls schools in Diamer had been arrested in the Tangir area during a search operation.

Addressing a press conference along with his adviser on information Shams Mir, the CM said that a joint investigation team had been constituted to probe the incident.

According to Mr Rehman, 12 schools were partially damaged while two schools were completely torched using explosive material.

He said that since Diamer district shared a border with Swat and other areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, it was easy for the suspects to flee through various nullahs. Terming the incident negligence of intelligence agencies, he said the GB government had decided to transfer all special branch officials to the region to trace the 60 to 70 suspects linked with the incident.

The army was assisting the government in the operation, he added.

GB chief minister says a JIT has been formed to probe the incident

The minister claimed that at least 40 persons had been arrested so far, but only four of them were suspected to be involved in the incident as they had resisted the police.

“The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government established 190 primary schools and 70 home schools for girls to ensure their enrolment in the district,” he said, adding that currently 22 per cent girls from Diamer were enrolled in schools.

The incident might have been a reaction to the government initiatives for female education in the last three years, he said while declaring an “education emergency” in the district. The CM announced that all under-construction schools would be made functional till Independence Day (August 14).

Tourist flow in the region had decreased after reporting of the torching incidents in the media, he regretted. Mr Rehman said the Karakoram Highway and other districts of the region were safe and roads had been cleared for traffic.

Miscreants would be eliminated from the region, pledged the chief minister. Further investigation into the incidents was under way.

Published in Dawn, August 07th, 2018