Sun, 03 Jul 2022

Peshawar [Pakistan], May 16 (ANI): Many people from the Sikh community in Pakistan staged a sit-in on the Grand Trunk Road outside the historic Qilla Bala Hisar to protest against the murder of two Sikh men, who were gunned down in the city of Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Two Sikh shopkeepers were shot dead by unidentified assailants on Sunday morning in the Bazaar in Peshawar. Local police said the assailants escaped after the targeted killing, Dawn newspaper reported.

The victims were identified as Ranjeet Singh (38) and Guljeet Singh (42), who were the owners of spice shops in the Battathal bazaar, located in the jurisdiction of Sarband police station.

"We need justice," read a banner held by the demonstrators. "Give protection to the religious minorities," stated another.

"The targeted killers have assassinated our Sikh brothers on Sunday morning," Peshawar's Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Ijaz Khan told reporters at the crime scene, calling the attack "an act of terrorism".

According to the Peshawar's CCPO, the gunmen killed one of the victims inside the shop while the second one was shot outside his office. He further added that the assailants were on a motorbike and used the AK-47 rifle.

The gunmen managed to escape from the crime scene, as the area was located near the troubled Bara area of Khyber tribal district, according to CCPO.

"We are investigating from different angles and it is confirmed that it's an act of terrorism," he added.

The Pakistan police were investigating the case whether the attack came in retaliation for two terrorists killed in their operation, a day ago or if any other group is involved. However, according to the sources, the militant Islamic State group's Khorasan chapter (IS-K) was most likely behind this incident.

Earlier, on Saturday, an IS-K commander and mastermind of the suicide attack on the Koocha Risaldar Shia mosque was killed along with a would-be suicide bomber in an early morning raid, reported Dawn newspaper.

Previously, in October 2021, IS-K claimed the responsibility for killing a Sikh Hakeem, Satnam Singh near the Charsadda bus stand.

In a statement, Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz told the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister to take steps to ensure the safety of the lives and the property of citizens, especially minorities. He also directed the KP chief minister to ensure the arrest of the suspects and punish them according to the law.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah criticised the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government for its failure to protect the minorities and also directed the chief secretary and the inspector general of the police to submit a report on the incident, as reported by Dawn newspaper.

"The provincial government and law enforcement agencies should ensure the safety of Pakistani citizens belonging to minority communities," he said, adding that the perpetrators should be arrested in accordance with the Prime Minister's directives.

Moreover, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari asked for the immediate arrest of those who were involved. "No one will be allowed to disturb the interfaith harmony in the country and harm national unity," he said in a statement, adding that the Pakistan Peoples Party was the country's real representative party and would not abandon the Sikh community.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan also condemned the assassination of Sikh community members. He directed the police to arrest the killers immediately and said no one would be allowed to disrupt the interfaith harmony, according to the statement. (ANI)

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