The violence-hit capital city of Gilgit-Baltistan is limping back to normal after remaining under the grip of tension and fear days before and after Eidul Fitr, following the carnage of 19 bus passengers at Lulusar in Naran valley last week.
The local administration had imposed an ‘undeclared curfew’ in the city to stop targeted killings after three persons, including a Rangers’ official, were shot dead in drive-by shooting incidents on Tuesday apparently in retaliation to the Naran carnage, which was the third such incident of terrorism in Kohistan, Mansehra and Diamer districts during the last six months in which over 50 people, mostly Shias, were targeted. Over 200 people including government officials have become victims of targeted killings in Gilgit during the last five years.
Ban on travelling on vehicles in the city was lifted on Thursday and markets were opened. Pakistan International Airlines operated a flight to Gilgit after a week. Hundreds of people are still stranded in Rawalpindi and Gilgit following the incidents of violence.
With the lifting of restrictions, not all markets opened on Thursday but traffic resumed across the city as normal. Attendance in almost all public and private offices remained thin.
“The situation is under control and hopefully will improve soon,” Assistant Commissioner Gilgit Abdul Shakoor told The Express Tribune on Thursday. He said that government offices have been opened and educational institutes will also be opened in the near future. However, he said that all entry and exit points of the city will remain sealed and ban on plying of motorbikes will remain intact indefinitely.
About resumption of public transport from Gilgit to rest of the country, Shakoor said that security arrangements were underway to ensure safety of passengers and hoped that the service will be resumed soon.
Entry and exit routes of the city were sealed off by authorities on Wednesday after three people were killed and two others were injured apparently in retaliation to the Naran bus carnage last week. Gunmen shot dead two traders, Abdul Haleem, a sub-agent of daily Express and Mirza, near Sekwar area on the outskirts of the city, while unidentified armed men opened fire on Frontier Constabulary personnel deputed outside the deputy commissioner office at Khomar, killing an official, identified as Manzoor, on the spot and seriously injuring another, identified as Shujaat.
Hundreds of people have been left stranded in the town since.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 24th, 2012.
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