Violence reared its ugly head again in the Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) capital on Sunday when three more people were wounded in a fresh episode of sectarian strife.
A Gilgit scout and two others were injured in a clash in Baseen, about 15 kilometres from the capital.
The fighting was triggered by an exchange of gunfire between rival sects as a procession passed through the area. The scout was caught in the crossfire.
The latest strife led to an escalation of tensions in Gilgit, already riven by fear in the wake of the Kohistan episode that had left 16 people dead last week.
Residents were forced to stay indoors throughout the day as authorities repeatedly sounded warnings in various residential areas through loudspeakers.
“We kept on hearing loudspeakers cautioning people not to leave their homes the whole time,” said one perplexed resident Mujeeb Khan.
However, Assistant Commissioner (AC) Gilgit Usman Ahmed told The Express Tribune that though the assembly of people was outlawed under section 144 of the penal code, no actual curfew had been imposed in the city.
Another official Momin Jan, the additional deputy commissioner (ADC), said that security had been beefed up in the wake of the Baseen clash. To provide a semblance of normalcy returning to the area, the government announced opening of private and public offices as well as educational institutions in the city from Monday.
On its account, the management of Karakoram International University (KIU) asked all employees and students to ensure their presence in the university on Tuesday.
Late in the evening, a huge cache of arms was seized following a raid on a house near Baseen.
“Six rocket launchers as well as heavy weapons including ammunitions have been recovered during the raid,” Home Secretary G-B Sajid Chohan told media at a hurriedly called press conference.
“In the coming days more raids will be carried out to stamp out elements bent on creating instability,” asserted Chohan.
At least three people were arrested by the authorities, charged with possession of illegal arms.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 5th, 2012.