23 killed in Karachi blast, firing
Last Updated: Friday, January 08, 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 08, 2010, 20:28


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