April 1998 News

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Gunmen mow down 21 in PoK village

27th April 1998

Unknown gunmen slaughtered 21 people in a remote village in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, the authorities said today.

Overnight yesterday several gunmen roared into Bindala Samahani, some 275 kms southeast of the Kashmir capital of Muzzafarabad and massacred two unrelated families. Another three people were injured. The assailants escaped, said officials in the area.

Among the dead was a school teacher, identified only as Zubair and his three young sons, his daughter, wife, daughter-in-law and their family friends who were visiting at the time according to officials, who said the incident is still being investigated.

The culprits then went next door and killed the owner of the home, his four sons, a daughter-in-law, three granddaughters and his wife. His eldest son was seriously injured. Before fleeing the village, the gunmen killed two men they saw playing cards in a nearby shop. Another two men were wounded.

The bodies were taken to a nearby hospital for examination. "The dead families had no enmity," said Mahzir Hussein Shah, a journalist living in the village.

ISLAMABAD: Scores of protesters from the Sipah-e-Sahabah, a militant Sunni Muslim group, evaded a huge police operation to demonstrate outside Parliament today.

Authorities deployed 1,500 police and detained 200 suspected activists, but still slightly more than 100 protesters managed to slip through the police net and demonstrate.

They chanted slogans calling for the release of their leaders arrested last year on suspicion of being involved in dozens of religiously motivated killings.

The group has been implicated in dozens of attacks on rival Shiite Muslims. Rolls of barbed wire were unrolled outside the white marble Parliament building and hundreds of police in riot gear stood guard. Vehicles were stopped and searched for suspected militants.

"We are angry but committed to a peaceful protest," said Abdul Qayyum Kalipha, vice-president of the Sunni extremist group. "We will sit here until our leaders are released."

Pakistan's Eastern Punjab province has been wracked by relentless religiously motivated killings prompting the federal government to pass an anti-terrorist law.

This law gives police sweeping powers to arrest and detain suspected militants.


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