March 27th, 2021
By Hamid Riaz & Hassan Raza
Two persons were injured today as a couple of assailants opened fire on a passenger vehicle crossing the RCC Bridge in the Ghari Bagh area of Gilgit city, in Gilgit-Baltistan.
Both the victims were non-locals, one of them belonged to Peshawar and the other was from Hunza but was residing in the Danyor area of Gilgit City. The victims belonged to the Sunni and Ismaili sects respectively.
CCTV footage of the incident showed two unmasked assailants riding a motorcycle at the scene of the crime. According to local journalists and police, the authorities are searching for the culprits. Soon after the attack, the Danyor junction near the site of the attack was blocked for traffic by angry members of the public and the drivers’ union.
Even though a sectarian motive could not be independently ascertained, the incident occurred in the backdrop of rising sectarian tensions in the area.
Voicepk.net made multiple calls to the concerned police station and the officer in charge of the investigation. While the officials confirmed the details received by our team, they refused to comment on the sectarian aspect, neither confirming nor denying it. According to the police officials, they do not have “any updates” on the investigation.
On Friday, GB police arrested 11 people in connection to an ambush on a passenger jeep in Naltar on March 25. Six people including a woman were killed while seven others were injured when assailants opened fire on a passenger jeep traveling from Gilgit to Naltar on March 25.
While the police initially blamed the Naltar incident on personal enmity, they later backtracked because the incident had clear sectarian undertones. All the Naltar victims were Sunnis while the attack took place in a Shia-majority area.
Following the attack, large-scale anti-Shia rallies were held in several parts of Gilgit Baltistan including in Gilgit city and Chilas. Speakers at events openly declared Shias to be apostles and called for violence against them.
The Gilgit Administration had already declared a red alert in the entire area following the incident in Naltar and has no canceled scheduled exams of various government departments in light of the prevailing security situation of the region.
Activists, religious and political leaders from across spectrums have once again urged their respective communities to exercise calm in face of provocations and let better sense prevail.