Since the outbreak of violence, Gilgit has remained cut off from the rest of the country with no vehicle plying on the Karakoram Highway and PIA not operating its flights.          — Dawn File Photo

GILGIT: Thirty-four people kidnapped from Hunza on April 3 in the wake of violence and bloodshed in Gilgit and Chilas were released on Tuesday as a result of successful talks between kidnappers and cleric Aga Rahat ul Hussain, police said.

Member of the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly Deedar Ali Shah said the 34 hostages had been released unconditionally.

The kidnapped men — the district health officer, a civil judge, truck drivers, cleaners and labourers working in flour mills — had been taken to Nagar valley.

On Tuesday, they were brought to Gilgit where they were received by the deputy speaker of the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly, home secretary, finance secretary and the DIG.

Police said Aga Rahat, accompanied by Sheikh Mirza Ali and a number of other religious scholars, went to Nagar valley after the kidnappers had said that they would hand over the hostages only to him.

A team earlier constituted by the Gilgit-Baltistan chief minister had failed to persuade the kidnappers to free the hostages.

The hostages were first taken to the Chief Minister’s House where they met the CM and later transferred to a hotel. They are expected to go to their homes on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a curfew imposed eight days ago remained in force on Tuesday, without any relaxation.

Since the outbreak of violence, Gilgit has remained cut off from the rest of the country with no vehicle plying on the Karakoram Highway and PIA not operating its flights.

When contacted, SP Diamer district Bashir Ahmed said road traffic would not resume without improvement in the security situation. He said about 27 trucks loaded with foodstuff had left for Gilgit, but they were not allowed to enter the city because all entry points were closed.

People in Skardu, Ghizer, Astore, Ghanche and Hunza Nagar are facing a shortage of food and medicines. Tens of thousands people held a sit-in in Skardu and called for arrest of the killers of bus passengers in Bonar Das near Chilas.

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