Police claim GB school attackers were trained in Afghanistan

  • 31 suspects arrested for involvement in attack
  • Sessions judge escapes unhurt as his vehicle comes under attack in Daryal

DIAMER: Following the brazen attack in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) in which 14 girls’ schools were torched in different areas, the police have claimed on Sunday that the attackers were trained in Afghanistan after 31 suspects were arrested for involvement in attacking schools in the area.

On Thursday night, over a dozen girls’ schools were attacked in Chilas, Darel and Tanger tehsils of Diamer district of GB.

Police are conducting further raids in different areas to arrest the suspected attackers.

Moreover, a policeman lost his life and another was injured during an exchange of fire with armed suspects in Chilas on Saturday, GB IG Sanaullah Abbasi said.

Police official Arif Hussain was killed in the clash which occurred during a search operation to arrest those involved in attacking schools in the area, the IG said.

“A suspect, Shafiq, was also killed in the clash and another was arrested from Tanger area,” he added.

Shafiq, who has no known association with any organised militant or terrorist outfits, but is referred to as a militant and militant commander by police officials, was one of the suspects behind the brazen arson attacks targeting the girls’ schools.

The police officials also recovered a suicide jacket, hand grenade and arms and ammunition from suspect Shafiq’s house, adding that search operations in the area will continue till the elimination of terrorism.

Police said that locals were also taking part in the search operations and that most militants in the area are locals. According to officials, the militants in Tanger had been attempting to flee the area but locals had surrounded them, after which Shafiq was killed.

Police added that a civilian was injured in an exchange of fire between police and the militants. At least three to four others were also injured during the operations.

GB Spokesman Faizullah Faraq said that miscreants had occupied a road in Tanger and were firing at passing cars.

A district and sessions judge also came under attack on Sunday after assailants fired shots at the judge’s vehicle in Daryal area of Diamer district.

Police said that the assailants fired at district and sessions judge Malik Inayat’s vehicle. Although the car was badly damaged, the judge escaped unharmed. The judge had reportedly not been alerted of the security threat by police.

Talking to a private media outlet, the judge denied reports that he was accompanied by his family at the time of the attack and said that he was alone in the car at the time.

Judge Malik said, “My car was fired at different spots over a distance of two kilometres. But instead of stopping my car, I kept driving really fast.”

The judge further said that he was headed to the funeral of police official Arif Hussain, who was killed on Saturday in a clash which occurred during a search operation to arrest those involved in attacking schools in the area, when his vehicle was targetted.

Police have launched a search operation in the area to arrest the attackers.

Furthermore, during a meeting on Saturday of GB ministers from Diamer, the home secretary, IG Police, government spokesman, district administration, intelligence and law enforcement agencies officials and elders of the district in Chilas, it was decided that the search operation would be extended, and that locals had assured the administration of their cooperation with police.

According to reports, names of 20 suspects had been given to the local jirga with the demand for their immediate surrender.

The police later submitted to the chief minister an initial report linking the latest episodes of school torchings with past attacks on girls’ schools in the area.

The report stated the incident was the continuation of the past incidents in which girls’ schools had been attacked with an objective to bar them from getting an education.

In 2004, half a dozen girls’ schools had been torched in one go. Girls’ schools were also targeted by extremist forces in 2011 and 2015.

Earlier, Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar took notice of the attack on schools and directed the interior secretary and the secretary for Kashmir Affairs and GB to submit reports within the next two days.

GB chief minister also ordered the chief secretary to ensure the schools destroyed in the incident are restored to working condition in the next 15 days.

GB spokesperson said that the restoration work will begin soon and the schools will re-open in the last week of August.

Caretaker Prime Minister Justice (r) Nasirul Mulk also ordered relevant authorities to submit a report on the attack. Strongly condemning the attack, PM Mulk said that those involved in the incident will be held accountable.



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