GILGIT (ET): The Pakistan Army launched a search operation in the mountains of Diamer Valley on Tuesday in a bid to arrest terrorists who ransacked a police station in Darel recently.
In a brazen attack on July 4, at least two dozen armed masked men, dressed in army uniforms, stormed a police station in Darel Valley of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) and took away arms, ammunition and police uniforms. They tied up the policemen on duty and told them to abandon government service or face the consequences.
The search operation on Tuesday took place in the Muspar Forest – a thick woodland located between Batogah Nullah and Thak Nullah. Intelligence reports suggest the presence of terrorists there, said a police official requesting anonymity. “There are reports that about five dozen army personnel are taking part in the search,” he said. Terrorists hiding in the forest could also be among those who killed foreign tourists and their investigators last year, he speculated.
Residents of Chilas told The ET that they saw at least five army helicopters hovering in the sky for a long time. “There is a continuous flight of helicopters above the town; I can count five helicopters,” said Faizullah. GB home secretary Attaur Rahman confirmed a military operation was taking place in the mountains. “It’s against terrorists and we can’t give a time frame as to when it will end,” he told reporters.
In another operation launched simultaneously, Superintendent Jhangir Khan led a police contingent to raid houses in Darel Valley. “It was a routine exercise to weed out criminals,” Khan told The Express Tribune when he returned to his office after the raid. However, according to another source, several suspects were held during the raid to be questioned later.
G-B urged to tighten security for Chinese engineers
Intelligence agencies have asked the G-B government to tighten security for Chinese engineers working in the area. It was revealed in a letter written by the National Counter Terrorism Authority that, after a recently held meeting in Afghanistan, terrorists are plotting to attack Chinese engineers supervising work on projects in G-B, including the Karakoram Highway that connects Pakistan and China.
The Karakoram Security Force, which has been raised exclusively for Chinese security, is on duty around the clock. However, the letter still calls for more stringent safety measures. The threat has come a week after terrorists clad in army uniforms attacked a police station in Darel Valley, tied police up with ropes and took away arms and ammunition. The incident rang alarm bells over the possible infiltration of terrorists from North Waziristan Agency, where a full-scale military operation has forced militants to flee.
The massacre of 10 foreign climbers at Nanga Parbat a year ago also came reportedly after a failed attempt to capture a Chinese-American national to use him as a high-value bargaining chip.