Islamabad: At least 14 people were killed and
over 50 others injured in sectarian violence in
Gilgit-Baltistan region of northern Pakistan Tuesday, prompting
authorities to call in the army and impose a curfew to quell
violence that rapidly spread to several towns and cities.
Five people were killed and dozens injured in a grenade
attack and incidents of firing between rival Shia and Sunni
groups in Gilgit city, the capital of the region, police said.
As the violence spread, a mob stopped several buses on
the Karakoram Highway near the Sunni-dominated Chilas area,
pulled out nine Shias and gunned them down, police said.
A majority of people travelling in the buses were Shias,
officials said. Superintendent of Police Jamshed Khan and two
policemen were injured in the attack. The attackers also
torched four buses.
The violence erupted during a strike called by the
Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal-Jamaat (ASWJ), a radical Sunni group, to
press the government to release some of its supporters. The
ASWJ activists were arrested for an attack on a procession by
a rival group last month. The ASWJ is considered a front for
the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba.
Supporters of Shia and Sunni groups attacked each other
in parts of Gilgit city this morning. The clashes began when
ASWJ supporters burnt tyres on roads and reportedly forced
traders to shut their shops.
Curfew was imposed in Gilgit shortly after 10 am and
authorities made announcements asking people to stay indoors.
However, the local police force was unable to control the
clashes. The army was called in later in the afternoon to
quell the violence.
State-run Radio Pakistan reported that the army had taken
control of Gilgit city and incidents of firing had stopped.