PESHAWAR / DI KHAN: Outlawed terrorist group Jundallah has claimed responsibility for an attack a bus on Karakoram Highway in the Kohistan district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, which killed 18 people on Tuesday.
Jundallah’s commander Ahmed Marwat, who contacted media persons soon after the attack, claimed responsibility for the assault.
The attack took place when gunmen opened fire on the bus which was en route to Gilgit from Rawalpindi with 39 passengers on board. The bus was owned by Mashaburum private bus service.
Seven armed men stopped two buses and a coaster. The armed men were reported to be in Army uniform. They asked the passengers to get off the bus and shot them after checking their CNICs.
Most of the victims were pilgrims who were going back to their native areas after visiting holy shrines in Iran.
A source in the district administration in Dassu told The Express Tribune that residents of Tangir’s Darkai valley, Commander Abdul Qayyum, Saddar Shariat and Burhan Shariat, sons of Gul Shahzada: Abdul Karim and Abdul Qadeem, sons of Abdul Ghafoor are suspected to be involved in the massacre.
Driver Muhammad Younus of Nagar valley, Najibullah, Suhail Ahmed are among the deceased.
“All the people on board were Shia, and at the moment it looks like they were targeted by armed men from the local Sunni community,” a senior police official had earlier told Reuters.
“Armed men hiding on both sides of the road attacked the bus,” local police chief Mohammad Ilyas said.
“Initial reports said 18 people have died and eight wounded,” he added.
Police officials said the bus came under attack in an area inhabited by two Sunni tribes about 430 km (267 miles) north of Islamabad.
The ambush happened near the town of Harban Nullah. DCO Chilas confirmed the incident.
The bodies of the deceased have been kept at Shatial hospital.
Local MP Abdul Sattar Khan linked the ambush to the murder of two Sunni Muslims a few days ago in Gilgit.
“The people of the area had vowed they would take revenge,” Khan told AFP by telephone.
Rehman Malik constitutes three-member investigation team
Interior Minister Rehman Malik constituted a three-member investigation team which will be supervised by the Deputy Inspector General of Hazara Division.
The team will comprise members from Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Intelligence Bureau (IB) and police officials.
The team will produce an investigation report within three days.
President Zardari takes notice of the attack
President Asif Ali Zardari, while taking notice of the attack said that the injured admitted in the hospital should be facilitated with the best treatment.
President Zardari also sought an investigative report of the attack.
Schools in Gilgit to remain closed for three days: CM G-B
While speaking to Express News, Chief Minister Gilgit-Baltistan Syed Mehdi Shah said that he was in contact with the chief minister of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and that investigations were underway.
“We [G-B government] have alerted the army, Frontier Corps and police so that no other incident could take place,” said Shah.
He said that section 144 has been imposed in Gilgit, while schools will remain closed for three days.
Shia-Sunnis remain brothers: KP Information Minister
Addressing a press conference in Peshawar, the KPK information Minister said that the incident took place near Harband Nala, some 65 km from Dasu. He said that the bus was on its way from Rawalpindi to Gilgit when it was attacked at around 8:30 am “16 dead bodies have been handed over to the authorities in the area so far” said Mian Iftikhar Hussain.
“People of a particular sect were targeted to create chaos in the area,” the information minister said, reiterating that Shia and Sunni’s were brothers.