The militants – Habibur Rehman and Liaquat alias Akhtar – fled from the prison in a daring pre-dawn jailbreak on Friday which also left one militant, Bilal, dead and another, Dilbar, injured.
Habibur Rehman was involved in the 2013 slaying of nine foreign climbers and their Pakistani guide at a base camp of Nanga Parbat mountain. Liaquat was accused in a deadly attack on investigators of the massacre in Chilas region.
The escaped militants were pinned down by the security forces in a compound in the Minawar area, some 15 kilometres away from Gilgit, in the early hours of Saturday. The militants opened fire on the security forces, injuring police officer Ghulam Muhammad.
The siege was laid by the police, aided by paramilitary Gilgit Scouts, and army troops. “The siege remained in place throughout the night but they [militants] somehow managed to escape,” an official told The Express Tribune requesting anonymity. “The security forces conducted a door-to-door search in the area – but to no avail,” he added.
Meanwhile, Gilgit city remained in a lockdown as law enforcers and security forces searched for the escaped militants. All entry and exit points to the city have been sealed to deny the escapees an opportunity to sneak out.
According to officials, the hunt for the escapees has been expanded to the Pari area, about 30km from Gilgit. “The manhunt is under way as the siege has been shifted to the Pari area,” said Farooq Ahmed, a senior official in the G-B administration. He added that sniffer dogs have been brought in from Islamabad to assist in the manhunt. “The operation is being supervised by senior civil and army officials.”