The police in Pakistan on Sunday gunned down the prime suspect allegedly responsible for burning down 14 girls’ schools in Gilgit-Baltistan’s Diamer district three days ago. The suspect, identified as Shafiq, was killed during a search operation in the Tanger area, Diamer Police spokesperson Muhammad Wakeel told Dawn.

Gilgit-Baltistan spokesperson Faizullah Faraq said the police personnel had divided themselves into 10 to 12 groups to conduct searches in Tanger after local people surrounded armed men believed to be behind the attacks. In an ensuing gun battle, they killed a constable and wounded another while the police killed Shafiq. A civilian was also injured. The police said that Shafiq was not known to have associations with any organised militant or terrorist outfit.

The police have arrested 30 people so far in connection with the attacks on the schools. Gilgit-Baltistan’s Information Minister Shams Mir said a team of forensic experts from Islamabad is part of a joint investigation team set up to inquire into the incidents and find the accused, reported Dawn.

Meanwhile, the chapter of the United Nations Children’s Fund in Pakistan on Saturday condemned the incidents of arson, saying “attacks on schools rob children of their basic right to education and have a devastating impact on their lives”.

This is the not the first instance of schools being attacked in Diamer, which has the lowest rates of literacy for boys and girls in Gilgit-Baltistan. In 2004 and 2011, suspected extremists reportedly targeted girls’ schools.