Gilgit-Baltistan:Security Forces on High Alert

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GILGIT (ET): While senior police officers say they are cognizant of security threats and are taking measures to avert incidents of terrorism in towns and on the Karakoram Highway, people do not share their confidence.

A wave of panic swept across Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) following warnings that militant groups had infiltrated the region. A roadside bomb that ripped though a pushcart earlier this week and injured two people was taken as a precursor.

“This seems to be a preview,” Muhammad Raza, a resident of Kashrote told the media soon after the blast. “God forbid we may see even worse in the days ahead as warnings have already been shared with the public through the media.”

A day before the incident, the regional government had pointed out that incidents like the twin blasts in Karachi could not be ruled out in Gilgit.

“There are chances of such incidents here. We urge people to remain alert and immediately report to the authorities if they find a suspicious bag or a person,” said Home Secretary Faisal Zahoor during a meeting held in Gilgit recently. The information was reproduced in a section of G-B’s Urdu press, which also mentioned that a militant outfit headed by ‘Tariq Gidar’ had infiltrated G-B.

In view of the threat perception, security has been reinforced around mosques, public places and educational institutions in Gilgit, Skardu and Astore valley, said Zahoor.

Besides keeping a strict check on the vehicles entering G-B, residents and visitors without identity documents will be deported from the region. To avert terror incidents on the highways and in towns, the home secretary said an anti-terrorism force would be formed that would be headed by a deputy commissioner and a superintendent of police in Gilgit.

Army commandos would be stationed near Bunji and forces led by a captain would be put on high alert along the Karakoram Highway at Chatial, so passengers travelling by bus can be provided protection. Buses running between G-B and Rawalpindi will have to cross ‘sensitive areas’ before 5pm.

“We are aware of the threats and are on high alert to foil any terrorist activity in the region,” Senior Superintendent of Police Ali Zia told ET.

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