Police kill prime suspect in torching of 14 schools in Gilgit-Baltistan


ISLAMABAD:  Police on Sunday killed the prime suspect behind the brazen arson attacks targeting 14 schools, mostly all-girls’, in the Gilgit-Baltistan region, according to a media report.
The schools were burnt down over a period of two days in coordinated attacks in Gilgit-Baltistan’s Diamer district, triggering protest by local residents who sought safety for educational institutions.
The prime suspect believed to be responsible for the torching of 14 girls’ schools over a period of two days in Gilgit-Baltistan’s was killed during a search operation in the Tanger area today,” Diamer Police Spokesperson Muhammad Wakeel was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.
Shafiq – who has no known association with any militant or terrorist outfit, but is referred to as a ‘militant’ and ‘militant commander’ by police officials – was the prime suspect behind the brazen arson attacks targeting girls’ schools in the Chilas, Darel and Tanger tehsils of Diamer district, it said.
Gilgit-Baltistan government spokesperson Faizullah said that 10 to 12 police parties carried out raids in various parts of Diamer last night to track down those responsible for the arson attacks.
A police constable was killed and another wounded in a gun battle with armed suspects during a late night raid in Tanger on Saturday. So far 18 suspects have been arrested for the torching of the schools.
Wakeel said that the militants in Tanger were attempting to flee the area but locals surrounded them.
According to a report, about 1,500 schools have been destroyed in the tribal belt during the last 10 years.
In 2017, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) in its report stated that attacks by the Taliban and other militant groups disrupted the education of hundreds of thousands of children, particularly girls, in Pakistan.
Tense situation:
Though the GB government claims that the situation is returning back to normal, several sources have informed Pakistan Today that the militants have taken control over Tanger and Darel. They said that a mob attacked the Tanger Police Station and freed around half-a-dozen suspects arrested for putting the schools on fire.
A meeting was also held at PWD Rest House in Chilas on Monday to review the law and order situation. The meeting was attended by the corps commander, GB force commander and inspector general of police (IGP). Later, the officers left for Gilgit on choppers to take up the situation with GB Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman, who is yet to visit the violence-hit areas.
The meeting was briefed on a possible operation against miscreants as the forces commanders agreed to apprehend all suspects involved in the schools’ ransack.
Sources at Tanger said that the area had virtually become a no-go area for the civilian administration. Though GB Spokesman Faizullah Faraq said that the CM would visit the violence-hit areas soon, he did not give a date for the same, reflecting the gravity of the situation on the ground.
The locals have also demanded the army to conduct operations across Diamer district. Though GB government is reluctant to opt for a military operation against the miscreants, the administration, led by the chief secretary, is in favour of a military operation.