Vehicle came under fire and went on to collide with oncoming truck

GILGIT-BALTISTAN:

At least 10 people lost their lives and 25 others were injured on Saturday when a passenger bus came under gunfire by unidentified men on Karakoram Highway in Chilas town, Diamer district of Gilgit-Baltistan.

Addressing a news conference, Diamer Deputy Commissioner Captain (retd) Arif Ahmad said the tragic incident occurred at 6:30pm in the Hudur area of Chilas when the bus came under fire and went on to collide with an oncoming truck.

He added that the passenger bus had set off from Gahkuch in Ghizer and described the attack as a “cowardly” act.

The official said most of the passengers martyred in the attack hailed from across the country, including Kohistan, Peshawar, Ghizer, Chilas, Roundu, Skardu, Mansehra, Swabi and one or two people from Sindh.

The Diamer DC added that two Pakistan Army soldiers were among the people martyred in the attack. He added that a member of the Special Protection Unit was injured as well.

Diamer Superintendent of Police Sardar Shehryar said the first responders on the scene were Karakoram Highway (KKH) police personnel.

He added that they shifted the bodies and injured people to a hospital. “When I reached there, the bus was still on fire, which was extinguished,” he added.

The official added that the truck driver had also embraced martyrdom in the attack and his body was shifted as well.

The SP said the other vehicles present at the scene – including those coming to and from towards Dasu — taken away from there in the form of a convoy.

He continued that the place where the attack took place had been cordoned off to collect evidence.
The injured people, who include women and children, have been admitted to Regional Headquarters Hospital Chilas.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack and the motive for the shooting was not clear.
Expressing his condemnation, G-B Chief Minister Haji Gulbar Khan termed the attack on the passenger bus as a cowardly act of terrorism, according to a statement issued by his office.

He announced the formation of a special investigation team to thoroughly probe into the incident.

The G-B chief minister assured that those involved in the heinous attack would face the full force of the law, and their arrest would be a top priority for the regional government. He added that the G-B government would cover all the expenses related to the medical treatment of the injured.

“The government of Gilgit-Baltistan stands with the affected individuals in this difficult time. The blood of the martyrs will not go in vain, and all the murderers will be brought to justice,” the statement quoted Khan as saying.

He emphasised his government’s commitment to maintaining peace in G-B, stating that any attempts to sabotage security in the region would not be tolerated.

Special Assistant to G-B Chief Minister on Information, Iman Shah, echoed Khan’s sentiments, highlighting the government’s resolve to enforce immediate arrests and justice for the culprits.

PPP co-chairperson and former president Asif Ali Zardari also condemned the incident, calling for stringent penalties for the perpetrators.

He extended his condolences to the families of the martyrs and prayed for the swift recovery of the injured.

Chilas lies in the mountainous region of Gilgit-Baltistan, near the province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, where attacks have been rising in recent months, including some claimed by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Earlier this week, Pakistan conveyed a list of demands, including the handing over of former TTP leader Hafiz Gul Bahadur, whose group claimed responsibility for the November 26 suicide attack in Bannu town of K-P.

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