GILGIT, Jan 13: A prominent religious scholar, Syed Agha Ziauddin Rizvi, who was injured in an armed attack on Jan 8, succumbed to his injuries at the Combined Military Hospital in Rawalpindi on Thursday morning.

As a precautionary measure, authorities have imposed curfew in Skardu, some 120km from here, and troops have started patrolling the city. According to some reports, telephone lines have also been disconnected.

A press note issued by the administration said that curfew had been extended to the adjoining areas of Gilgit, including Danyore, Hainzai and no break was allowed on Thursday.

Agha Ziauddin Rizvi, who was the prayer leader of Gilgit's Imamia Mosque, was seriously injured when some unidentified people ambushed his car in Gilgit last week.

Two of his bodyguards, Akbar Hussain and Abbas Ali, died on the spot, while the third received injuries in the attack. One of the attackers was killed. The incident sparked violence in the area which left 15 people dead and 35 wounded.

Over a dozen shops, including four government offices, were set ablaze in the violence which subsided only after the imposition of curfew on Jan 9. Sources said the late scholar was hit from a close range and had received at least two bullets in his head. He was airlifted to Rawalpindi on Jan 10 for medical treatment.

His injured bodyguard, Tanvir Hussain, died in the CMH on Thursday. The authorities tried to send the body of the late scholar to Gilgit through a helicopter but it returned due to bad weather. The body would now be dispatched to Gilgit on Friday, the sources said.

PROFILE: The late Agha Ziauddin Rizvi, 45, was born at Aumphary, Gilgit, in a religious family. He completed his schooling in Gilgit and was later shifted to Lahore and then to Iran for higher religious education.

He also visited the UK and Kuwait as a member of a tablighee delegation in the early eighties. He leaves behind four children and a wife. The late leader rose to prominence in 1990 after he played a role in restoring peace and reconciliation efforts after the sectarian clashes of 1988 which left over 300 people dead.

He was generally regarded as a symbol of unity by the majority Shia community in Northern Areas and served as central Khateeb of Gilgit Imamia Masque for 15 years until his death. A large number of his followers gathered in Imamia mosque to receive the body despite curfew.

CONDOLENCES: All political and religious parties have expressed deep sorrow over the death of Agha Ziauddin Rizvi. In a statement, Syed Raziuddin Rizvi, younger brother of the late Agha Ziauddin Rizvi, condemned the brutal act of terrorism and reposed confidence in the ongoing investigation into the incident.

PML-N chief organizer for Northern Areas Hafiz Hafizur Rahman expressed sorrow over the death of the late scholar and demanded imposition of martial law in the region until the situation improved.

The president of Imamia Anjuman Gilgit, Shaikh Mirza Ali, termed the incident a conspiracy to spoil the peaceful environment of the region and hoped that the administration would bring the culprits to book.

He called upon the administration to make swift arrangements for the early airlifting of the dead bodies of the late Agha Ziauddin Rizvi and his bodyguard. Shaikh Mirza Ali also appealed to the public of Northern Areas to remain calm, peaceful and exercise restraint so that the funeral rites of the late scholar could be performed with respect and reverence.

A spokesman for the Northern Areas administration said that the situation was peaceful and army troops, magistrates and police had started patrolling the area in coordination with members of the peace committee.

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