Diamer police on Sunday lodged a first information report (FIR) and arrested six suspects in connection with an attack on an Islamabad-bound bus in Gilgit-Baltistan’s (GB) Chilas a day earlier.
At least nine people, including two soldiers, lost their lives and 21 passengers received injuries on Saturday evening after unknown gunmen targeted a bus from nearby hills which caused the vehicle to collide with a goods truck.
The interior minister of GB had said the bus driver stepped on the accelerator due to the firing which led to its head-on collision with a goods truck. He had equated the gun attack with terrorism.
So far, no organisation has accepted responsibility for the incident.
Speaking to Dawn.com today, the public relations officer (PRO) for the Diamer commissioner said a case was registered against unknown miscreants by Diamer Station House Officer Azmat Shah.
“Six suspects have been taken into custody at two police stations so far,” PRO Raja Ashfaq Tahir said.
The official said all entry and exit points of GB had been closed and security in the region was on high alert. The police have launched search operations across Diamer and traffic on the Karakoram Highway would remain suspended today, Tahir added.
Diamer Deputy Commissioner retired Captain Arif Ahmad also confirmed the same developments to Dawn.com.
Separately, Chilas Assistant Commissioner Sadaqat Ali said the funeral prayers of the deceased were offered with GB Chief Minister Haji Gulbar Khan and top army officials in attendance. The bodies were later dispatched to their hometowns by Rescue 1122.
Earlier, GB Interior Minister Shams Lone visited injured persons at the Chilas hospital and directed the medical staff to ensure the provision of the best medical care.
On the other hand, hundreds of passengers travelling to Gilgit Baltistan were stranded in Bisham, Kohistan and other areas due to the closure of the Karakoram Highway.
Muhammad Didar, a hotel owner in Bisham, told Dawn.com that he had provided free accommodation to stranded passengers, including women and children.
Protests were also held in Chilas and Hunza against the incident. The demonstrators demanded immediate action and the arrest of the culprits.
Meanwhile, in a statement, caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar affirmed that anti-state elements would not be allowed to sabotage peace in GB.
According to state-run Radio Pakistan, the premier condemned the incident. He said the war against terrorism would continue till the complete elimination of terrorism in the country.
He expressed deep grief over the martyrdom of innocent citizens in the incident and prayed for the patience of the bereaved families.
PM Kakar added that targeting unarmed civilians was proof of the terrorists’ cowardice.
Interim Interior Minister Sarfaraz Ahmed Bugti on Sunday also strongly condemned the firing incident.
“Targeting civilians is a cowardly act,” the minister said in his message, adding that anti-national elements were trying to sabotage GB’s peace.
“However, such cowardly acts boost the morale of our valiant forces to fight terrorism with more vigour and bravery.”
Bugti added that the country’s enemies wanted to destroy the peace of a peaceful area such as GB but they would fail.
He said the sacrifices of the nation in the war against terrorism would not go in vain.
Additional input from APP.