23 killed in Karachi blast, firing

Last Updated: Friday, January 8, 2010 - 20:28

Karachi: Pakistan`s commercial hub of Karachi
was in the grip of violence as at least 23 people were killed
in a blast in a militant safe house and several incidents of
firing by unidentified gunmen following the killing of MQM
activist, authorities said on Friday.

The blast occurred in the suburban Baldia Town area after
a cache of explosives stored by militants in the house
accidentally blew up today, killing eight people, police said.
Two Kalashnikov assault rifles, 22 grenades and two
suicide jackets were found in the one-room house, which
collapsed after the explosion.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik told reporters the home
had been rented by a man from the militancy-affected Swat.
Some persons from Swat came to visit this man last night.

Two bodies were dismembered by the blast and all the dead
appeared to be aged between 20 and 25. Two grenades were found
in the pocket of one of the dead.

Two suspects were also nabbed from the scene, police said.

Karachi police chief Waseem Ahmed said the men living in
the house could have been planning a terrorist attack.

Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani expressed concern that the
storage of explosives in a residential area had "remained
unnoticed by the law enforcement agencies" and ordered an
inquiry into the incident.

Separately, at least 15 people, most of them political
workers, were shot dead and several injured by unidentified
gunmen as violence flared up here after police found the
headless body of an activist of MQM, which is sharing power
with PPP in Sindh.
The gunmen targeted people at random in the Garden and
Lyari neighbourhoods in the city, police told TV channels.

Five persons were killed and two injured in the firing
today, Geo News channel reported.

Ten people, most of them affiliated with political
parties, were gunned down in Lyari and adjoining
neighbourhoods yesterday. Two women were among the dead.

The killings fuelled tension in the city and gunfire was
reported from several parts of Karachi as businesses shut down
and traffic went off the roads.

The ruling PPP claimed six of the 10 killed yesterday
were its workers and sympathisers as dozens of protesters
gathered with three bodies outside the Chief Minister`s House.

Violence intensified yesterday after police found the
headless body of Muhammad Aamir, an activist of the Muttahida
Qaumi Movement (MQM), in Lyari. The body bore marks of
torture, a police official said. Aamir had been reported
missing by his family since December 22.

Senior MQM leader and provincial minister Sagheer Ahmed
said Aamir was killed by the same elements who were carrying
out the "targeted killings" of workers of his party.

Incidents of firing were reported from several places in
Karachi last night. The situation took a turn for the worse
after two motorcycle-borne gunmen shot and killed local
councillor Nadir Shah in Pak Colony.

Gunmen also targeted a PPP office in Lyari killing three
party activists. Several people were also injured.

Karachi, the capital of Sindh province, has often
witnessed intense clashes between workers of rival political
parties.

PTI



First Published: Friday, January 8, 2010 - 20:28

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