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Graffiti welcoming Islamic State seen in Gilgit

By: Shabbir Mir

GILGIT: Graffiti welcoming Islamic State (IS) was seen in at least two places in Gilgit, stirring panic among locals and law-enforcement agencies.

“At least two walls were painted with slogans welcoming IS in Gilgit,” a resident said on Sunday, a day after the graffiti was found spray-painted in Amphari area of Gilgit. “Nobody knows who did this; people saw it in the morning and reported to the police,” said the local.

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The wall-chalking was removed by authorities immediately after it came to their notice, but finding such graffiti in Gilgit perturbed residents who believed it could be the work of someone aiming to create unrest in the region. G-B has previously seen violence triggered by sectarianism.

“There is no place for such an organisation in the region, but unfortunately there are some elements who might want such a group,” Abdul Gafoor, another resident, said, referring to the IS which is also known by its Arabic acronym Da’ish.

The graffiti also gave authorities in G-B a reason to scramble in worry. “This is to create panic in the region, [or so] it seems to be at least for now,” a security official said. He added it could be the work of people affiliated with certain banned outfits who were involved in terrorist activities.

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The official said intelligence sharing was being strengthened to unmask the men behind the graffiti. He added actions of “suspicious men” are also being monitored to arrest the culprits.

A case was however registered with the Gilgit City police station. “At the moment we have registered a case under the anti-terrorism act,” Zahoor Ahmed, a City police official, told The Express Tribune. “We are investigating and will hopefully get to those behind this act.”

The IS graffiti first appeared in Konodas, also in Gilgit, a year ago. Regardless of the motive behind the message, many in the area said the sight of wall-chalking welcoming a terrorist organisation was unsettling.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 18th, 2016.

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