47 dead, 123 injured in violence in Karachi

Last Updated: Tuesday, August 3, 2010 - 19:59

Karachi: Gunning down of a MQM lawmaker
sparked bloody rioting in Pakistan`s port city of Karachi as
protesters went on a rampage torching vehicles, shops and
houses leading to the death of at least 47 people.

Over 123 people were injured in the violence which
began last night after motorcycle-borne unidentified gunmen
shot dead Syed Raza Haider, a senior leader of the Muttahida
Qaumi Movement and a member of the Sindh assembly, his
bodyguard and a MQM worker, officials said.
Haider had gone to a mosque to attend a funeral when
he was attacked.

The killing infuriated Mohjahirs, who form the
majority in this city, as they forced downing of shutters and
attacked establishments belonging to the Pushtans. There were
reports of gunfire erupting in parts of the city.

The violence continued in the city this morning too as
protesters set on fire dozens of vehicles, petrol pumps, shops
and houses as police and paramilitary forces struggled to gain
control of the city.

Incidents of violence, including firing by armed
groups and arson, claimed 47 lives and left over 123 injured,
TV channels quoted police and hospital sources as saying.

Meanwhile, Haider was buried as thousands attended the
funeral prayers of the slain MQM leader.

The violence affected several areas, including Baldia
Town, Orangi Town, Gulistan-e-Johar, Landhi and Korangi.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Haider had
received threats from the Sipah-e-Sahaba, a banned anti-Shia
group.

He said the killing would be probed jointly by police
and intelligence agencies.

Police officials today said they had detained about
20 members of banned groups. "There have been regular firing
incidents in different areas as supporters and activists of
the MQM have reacted strongly to the assassination of their
leader," one police officer said.
Though large contingents of police and paramilitary
Pakistan Rangers were deployed across Karachi today, the city
wore a deserted look.

People preferred to remain indoors and traffic on the
roads was thin.

Most shops and commercial areas remained shut. No
group has claimed responsibility for Haider`s killing.

However, Malik said the Sipah-e-Sahaba and Tehrik-e-
Taliban Pakistan were behind the violence in Karachi that is
aimed at destabilising the country.

The MQM leadership has directly blamed the Awami
National Party which represents the Pakhtoons for Haider`s
killing.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and other leaders
appeal for calm in the wake of the killings, but violence soon
flared up in Karachi, a city riven by sectarian and ethnic
tensions.

The MQM, which is a partner in the ruling coalitions
in Sindh and at the centre, called for three days of mourning
in Karachi.

Karachi, the commercial hub and the largest city in
Pakistan, has been the scene of political and ethnic strife
for months now.

MQM leader Faisal Sabzwari hinted that the Awami
National Party, which draws support from Pashtu-speaking
people, could have had a hand in Haider?s killing.

Sabzwari alleged that the ANP had a nexus with
extremist elements and mafia groups.

The arrests of several extremist elements from ANP
strongholds were "indicators of fault lines", Sabzwari said.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, August 3, 2010 - 19:59

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