SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Sectarian killers executed at least 20 Shia Muslims after intercepting buses carrying migrant workers returning home to celebrate the Muslim festival of Eid.
Armed masked men wearing military uniforms, numbering between 10 and 15, intercepted three buses in northern reaches of the Naran Valley, a popular resort 100 miles north of Islamabad.
After examining identification documents of the passengers, they singled out Shia passengers, lined them up on the roadside, and shot them dead from point-blank range, administrators and police officials based in Mansehra, the district headquarters.
The shootings took place near Babusar Top, a 13,700-feet-high mountain pass that links the area to Gilgit-Baltistan, a Pakistan-administered region of Kashmir famed among mountaineers for the greatest concentration of 23,000-feet-plus peaks in the world.
The victims of Thursday afternoon attacks were all residents of the Astore Valley, a remote area located on western slope of Mount Nanga Parbat, the western-most peak of the Himalayas.
The killings mirrored a February 28 incident in which 18 Shia were pulled off buses near the town of Chilas by masked men wearing military fatigues and shot dead.
In both cases, militants tracked the movements of Shia travelling home to the Gilgit-Baltistan region from their jobs and businesses in Islamabad, picking up their trail at the Pir Wadhai bus stand.
“Both attacks are identical in method, so it’s clear that they were carried out by the same militant groups, if not the same people,” said Farooq Ahmed, editor of the Mountain Times, a weekly newspaper published in Gilgit.
Gilgit-Baltistan is strategically sensitive as the geographical meeting point of three nuclear weapons states — Pakistan, China and India.—www.shafaqna.com/english