Prime suspect in school blast killed

The schools were burnt down over a period of two days in coordinated attacks in Gilgit-Baltistan's Diamer district, triggering protest by local residents who sought safety for educational institutions. AP/PTI file photo

Pakistani police on Sunday killed the prime suspect behind the brazen arson attacks targeting 14 schools, mostly all-girls', in the Gilgit-Baltistan region, according to a media report.

The schools were burnt down over a period of two days in coordinated attacks in Gilgit-Baltistan's Diamer district, triggering protest by local residents who sought safety for educational institutions.

"The prime suspect believed to be responsible for the torching of 14 girls' schools over a period of two days in Gilgit-Baltistan's was killed during a search operation in the Tanger area today (Sunday)," Diamer Police spokesperson Muhammad Wakeel was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.

Shafiq — who has no known association with any militant or terrorist outfit, but is referred to as a "militant" and "militant commander" by police officials — was the prime suspect behind the brazen arson attacks targeting girls' schools in the Chilas, Darel and Tanger tehsils of Diamer district, it said.

Gilgit-Baltistan government spokesperson Faizullah said that 10 to 12 police parties carried out raids in various parts of Diamer on Saturday night to track down those responsible for the arson attacks.

A police constable was killed and another wounded in a gun battle with armed suspects during a late-night raid in Tanger on Saturday. So far, 18 suspects have been arrested for torching the schools.

Wakeel said that the militants in Tanger were attempting to flee the area but locals surrounded them.

A civilian was injured and at least three to four others were injured in an exchange of fire between police and the militants during the operations, the paper said.

Nobel laureate and education activist Malala Yousafzai and prime minister-in-waiting Imran Khan have strongly condemned the attacks.

"The extremists have shown what frightens them most — a girl with a book," Malala, 21, tweeted.

"Shocking & condemnable torching of schools in GB...This is unacceptable and we will ensure security for schools as we are committed to focusing on education, especially girls' education which is integral to Naya Pakistan," Khan said.

Girls' schools are often attacked in the northern areas of Pakistan.

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Prime suspect in school blast killed

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