GILGIT: Curfew in the violence-wrecked city was relaxed on Sunday for six hours, the longest break since it was imposed 13 days ago after more than 20 people were killed in the sectarian clashes.
According to announcements made by authorities, the relaxation commenced from 12pm, asking people to replenish their food stocks.
Shortage of food items in parts of Gilgit have also surfaced following suspension of traffic on Karakoram Highway due to recent killings.
“The break in curfew will be expanded gradually before it is finally lifted,” said Usman Ahmed, a senior government official. However he didn’t give a timeframe of permanent lifting of the curfew and restoration of cellular service. “The matter is under discussed at higher levels and will be communicated to public when a decision comes to this effect,” he said.
The security remained tight all over the city on the 13th consecutive day, with the army still manning dozens of security pickets and conducting body searches of suspected residents. Security forces continued search operations on Sunday in various residential areas of the city and arrested dozens of suspects.
Early this month, the capital city of the mountainous Gilgit-Baltistan plunged into the worst sectarian crisis after a strike rally of Sunnis in Gilgit was attacked with a hand grenade, killing 6 and injuring 50 others. In retaliation, 10 Shia passengers were killed in Chilas where an enraged mob set on fire four buses, resulting in imposition of curfew and jamming of cellular phone service in the city.
Meanwhile, interior minister Rehman Malik could not make it to Gilgit on the second consecutive day due to rough weather.
Accompanied by a delegation of scholars from rest of Pakistan, he was schedule to visit the restive Gilgit to help the waging tribes come to a peaceful settlement.
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