After Naran bus carnage: ‘Undeclared curfew’ in Gilgit after killing of three persons

Senior police official says step taken to thwart violence; hundreds of people, foreign and domestic tourists stranded.

Shabbir Mir August 23, 2012


An undeclared curfew was imposed in the troubled capital city of the mountain region of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) on Wednesday after killing of three people and injuring of two others apparently in retaliation to the Naran bus carnage last Thursday.

Authorities denied it was an undeclared curfew. However, the restrictions were similar to those imposed during a curfew. People were not allowed to come out of their homes, markets were closed and travelling on vehicles was banned as police and other law enforcement agencies kept patrolling the deserted roads of the city. Two scheduled flights of PIA for Gilgit were also cancelled due to bad weather.

“The step has been taken to curb target killings,” Ali Sher, Deputy Inspector-General (DIG) of police told The Express Tribune. “This is understandably a reaction to the Naran bus killings,” he said of the violence that left three people dead and two others seriously wounded in different incidents of target killings in Gilgit on Tuesday.

The official said the restrictions will be lifted soon.

The recent incidents occurred four days after 19 passengers, mostly Shias, were hauled off four coaches and gunned down at point blank by terrorists at Lulusar area in Naran Valley of Mansehra District.

On Tuesday, gunmen shot dead two traders, Abdul Haleem and Mirza, near Sekwar area on the outskirts of the city. The deceased belonged to Swat and were running a business in Gilgit. Sher said that a few suspects have been arrested in connection with the killing.

In the second incident, unidentified armed men opened fire on Frontier Constabulary personnel deputed outside the deputy commissioner office at Khomar, killing a man, identified as Manzoor, on the spot and seriously injuring another, identified as Shujaat.

On Wednesday morning, authorities made repeated announcements through loudspeakers asking people not to open shops and remain indoors, leaving roads deserted.

An official at the Chief Minister Secretariat said that people in need of any sort of help will be facilitated by the authorities. About the duration of the restriction of movement, he said that it would be decided during a meeting likely to be held at night.

Earlier on Friday last, two truck drivers from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa were killed in Nagar valley and two others were injured in separate incidents.

Visitors vexed

Tourists and people who had come to Gilgit and other districts to celebrate Eid with their families were stranded after the town was sealed off by authorities.

Waseem Iqbal, who studies in a Lahore college, said he was worried that he will not be able to reach his college on time. “Since I will not be able to reach my college by Thursday, chances are that I would miss my papers,” said another student of King Edward Medical College.

They urged the government to make alternate arrangements to facilitate those who have been stranded in the town due to the curfew.

Earlier, the closure of two major road links to G-B following the Naran bus attack left hundreds of people unable to celebrate Eid with their families in their hometowns. Several G-B locals also cancelled their travel plans due to security concerns and were left stranded in Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

Mushtaq Khan, an official of a private travel company, said he is unsure when the company will resume bus service to Rawalpindi.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2012.