GILGIT: After successful negotiations, authorities in Gilgit managed to secure the release of 31 Sunnis held hostage in Nagar Valley for a week, sources said on Tuesday.
The release came after successful negotiations between the clerics and the government, independent sources confirmed to The Express Tribune.
The hostages included Rasheed – a district health officer from Astore, a civil judge and 29 labourers mostly from outside Gilgit-Baltistan.
No government official was available to provide an official statement on the release.
Armed men had abducted the civil judge and health officer while they were travelling in Nagar Valley along with regional Finance Minister Mohammad Ali Akhtar on April 3, the same day sectarian violence broke out after a protest rally by Sunnis in Gilgit was attacked with hand grenades. The attack on protest left six dead and over 50 injured.
In retaliation, few passenger buses in Sunni-dominated Chilas town were attacked and then put on fire. At least 10 Shia people were killed in these retaliatory attacks.
As a result, Sunni labourers from the Nagar Valley were abducted and shifted to unknown location until their negotiated release today.
“The men have been released and will be brought to Gilgit by night,”said a source.
According to another source, the Shia clerics, Agha Rahat and Sheikh Mirza Ali, played a key role in the release of these men as the Nagar community had authorised them to decide the fate of the abducted men.
Earlier, the government had formed a delegation comprising of regional Law Minister Wazir Shakil and Amjad Hussain for the release of the hostages but it failed to do so.