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Sectarian violence gaining foothold in twin cities

AFP

Rawalpindi/Islamabad: The sectarian violence has gained foothold in the twin cities after the killings in Raja Bazaar. Rawalindi sits on the volcano of sectarian violence and it is evident from the killings of the leaders of various sectarian outfits in the last few days, intelligence reports suggest.
As per reports, the sectarian violence that happened in Rawalpindi during Muharram last year has once again brought to the fore religious intolerance in an extreme form, and tensions continue to boil in the city even after the passage of several months. In the latest incident of sectarian violence on Tuesday night, an activist of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) was killed in an incident of firing in Muhammadi Colony, PirWadhai. It was a target killing as stated by a police officer, Umar Hayat Laleka. In less than 24 hours it was the second attack on ASWJ, as on Monday night a local leader of the same organisation was killed and two others were injured near Islamabad Expressway.
Soon after the targeted attack on Tuesday night which claimed the life of Abu Bakar Habib, 19, a student activist of ASWJ, a huge number of ASWJ activists gathered at the Holy Family Hospital where the victim was taken, and chanted slogans against the murder. 
The protest could have turned violent but a large number of police reached the spot in order to avert any unpleasant incident. Regarding the growing incidents of sectarian attacks in the garrison city in the last few months, a senior police official, on the condition of anonymity, said that it had become a daunting task for the security forces to curb sectarianism in the city as Shia-Sunni sectarian violence in the country has frighteningly surged both in terms of scope and strength.
He said that due to the upsurge in sectarian attacks it has become a challenge for the forces to fight against extremism on internal and external front. 
He added that the Rawalpindi police with the help of intelligence agencies, have been able to trace the foreign hands that are promoting and strengthening these organisations in the city. 
The official further claimed that the sectarian groups have the support of senior officials within the bureaucracy and the government and in such situation it has become extremely difficult for the security forces to fight against them.
Tension gripped parts of the city on Wednesday after the killing of AWSJ activist, while police launched a search operation to arrest the culprits.
Police said that they had started a search operation for the attackers and extra policemen have been deployed at all entry and exit points in the city.
Many parts of the city, including Muhammadi Colony and Khayaban Sir Syed, remained tense as angry protesters blocked the roads and chanted slogans against administration for not taking effective measures to curb sectarianism.
The growing sectarian violence has become a visible vulnerability that is posing a serious threat to the people of the twin cities and making it difficult to uphold peace, mutual harmony and peaceful politico-social order. The latest incident of sectarian violence was strongly condemned and the Rawalpindi administration has been blamed for not taking enough security precautions.

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