Gilgit -Baltistan (G-B) Home Secretary Ataur Rahman on Tuesday said at least 18 armed men took part in Nanga Parbat base camp terror attack while G-B Chief Minister Mehdi Ali Shah revealed that the government was likely to present the names of the culprits in a couple of days.
“The number of assailants who stormed tourists’ camp was 18,” Ataur Rahman, flanked by Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Police, Ali Sher and Secretary Tourism Akhtar Rizvi, told reporters at his office.
He said the attack took place at about 11.30 pm at night but the security forces could learn about it only by 6.00am, adding that G-B’s force commander was the first person to fly into the valley after the tragedy.
He applauded the role of Diamer Jirga for extending help to forces in their efforts to manhunt the killers. “We had a detailed meeting with the Jirga in Chilas today and I am pleased they assured us of their support,” he said, adding that the Jirga nominated a 10-member committee to help the forces.
Diamer Jirga had been instrumental in the past in the arrest of the criminal involved in shooting passengers on Karakoram Highway during 2012. The Jirga had also allowed police to raid houses of people who had killed a DSP in the Tangir valley this year.
“The Jirga is fully backed by the lawmakers from the Diamer valley,” he explained. Rahman said the ban on expeditions to the Nanga Parbat had been revoked after the evacuation of tourists. “There was a temporary ban imposed only to help evacuate the tourists safely from the area. But the ban is removed now.”
He didn’t explain how many suspects had been arrested so far and if they got any clue to the killers but said forces used sniffer dogs to trace the killers. He said an information centre has been set up in Gilgit to provide timely information to the public.
Earlier Chief Minister Gilgit-Baltistan Mehdi Ali Shah revealed the team investigating into Nanga Parbat base camp incident had made significant progress.
According to a report of the state-run television, the CM said suspects arrested during search operations were quizzed and the government was expected to reveal the names of culprits to the media in a couple of days.
Talking to reporters at his residence, Mehdi Shah said: “The attack on foreign trekkers was an unfortunate incident; but now we assure you that every step will be taken to provide due security to tourists.”
He said the G-B government would ensure the security of each and every tourist visiting the region. (With input from BBC-Urdu)
Published in The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2013.
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