G-B sectarian tensions: 31 Nagar hostages released after a week

Published: April 11, 2012

The release came after successful negotiations between the clerics and the government. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

GILGIT: The week-long ordeal of over two dozen people taken hostage in a remote valley of the Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) region ended on Tuesday.

Authorities secured the release of 31 hostages – including a district health officer from Astore, a civil judge and 29 day labourers from outside G-B – following successful negotiations with the captors.

The men were taken hostage by armed men in the Shia-dominated Nagar Valley last Tuesday in retaliation for the lynching of 10 people in Chilas Valley.

“The release followed eight days of negotiations between Shia clerics and government officials,” a source told The Express Tribune. “The men have been released and will be brought to Gilgit by Tuesday night,” added another source.

However, there was no official confirmation of the release.

Sources said that Shia clerics Agha Rahat and Sheikh Mirza Ali played the key role in securing the release of hostages as the captors had authorised them to decide the fate of the men.

On April 3 sectarian violence broke out in G-B following a hand grenade attack on a Sunni rally that killed six people and wounded dozens more. Incensed by the killings, Sunnis struck back in Chilas Valley, where they set passenger buses on fire. Ten Shia community members were killed in the melee.

In retaliation, armed men seized 31 people in Nagar Valley including the judge and the health officer while they were travelling with the region’s finance minister, Mohammad Ali Akhtar.

The G-B government had formed a team – headed by the region’s law minister Wazir Shakil – to negotiate with the captors and secure the release of hostages.

Meanwhile, tense calm prevailed in Gilgit while security forces conducted raids in different neighbourhoods of the town in a hunt for troublemakers. Sources said six people were detained in a raid in the Napur locality.

Authorities relaxed the curfew for three hours – from 2pm to 5 pm – for a second day on Tuesday to allow residents replenish food and medical supplies.

However, the region is virtually cut off from the rest of the country as communication networks remain suspended. And little traffic on the arterial Karakoram Highway has created shortage of supplies in G-B.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 11th, 2012.

Reader Comments (6)

  • imam
    Apr 11, 2012 - 6:41AM

    it is very good gesture that hostages have been recovered after successfull negotiations..similar gesture was shown by the people and ulma of ehl e sunnat after chilas incident by handing over hundreds of innocent people to local administration..i think peace is the only panecea and together people of gilgit baltistan can identify and sigle out people with wrong mentalities with in their circles..GB is a peaceful area and people have matrimonial relations with each other wethear they belong to any sect..v have to pray for sustainable peace..only thing which the people of gilgit baltistan realised from the whole episode is that unity and trust is the key to defeat terrorism and most important is the attitude of our politicians specially the CM and Governor who prefred to attend buttos lefting their own people burning at home so SHAME on mehdi shah and pir karm shah…
    long live pakistan long live Gilgit baltistan

    Recommend

  • Blithe
    Apr 11, 2012 - 6:41AM

    Why is the Federal govt. so hopeless in solving this???

    Recommend

  • Shan
    Apr 11, 2012 - 10:03AM

    i am wondering that while members of banned SSP/ASW and Shia cimmunity were killed. Rather as per reports Shia community is facing much trouble and they are more killed. But you are continuously displaying a picture stating ” kb tk sunniyun ka qatal…”

    I think you should act as a nuetral media and consider each and every point, word and pic you allow to publish. Therefore, i suggest that you either you should show more weithage to those who are facing more hardships. Or to vaoid or calm down secterianism you may display some other picture.Recommend

  • Ahsan
    Apr 11, 2012 - 2:15PM

    @shan: ET has only picture for GB voilence, and they are copy pasting the same Image URL again and again….

    Recommend

  • Human
    Apr 11, 2012 - 11:58PM

    @Imam. After killing as much as they can, the women and children were handed over to the administraion, this was the only good gesture from the Ulema of ASWJ of Chilas.The other good thing they ASWJ did was the sms what they normally do to call all militants from down stream and that creates hovec in the whole area.

    Recommend

  • Shan
    Apr 12, 2012 - 9:49AM

    @ Ahsan: Yes thats why I am saying that it is media, their each word, sentence and picture/image has larger impact. So I am of the view that instead of showing protest of one community either display protests of both or they should show a picture which will bring neutral thing or help in bringing harmony and detsroying the aims of those who want muslims to fight. Media should not just copy paste, since last few days much developments have been observed.

    Recommend

More in Gilgit Baltistan