Karachi: At least 16 people have died
over the past 24 hours as renewed violence involving rival
ethnic and sectarian groups continued to rock the Pakistani
city of Karachi, police said on Monday.
The latest killings bring the toll to 27 since the
fresh wave erupted on Friday, intensifying a surge of violence
blamed on political, ethnic and criminal rivalries which has
left scores dead so far this month.
Pakistan last week deployed hundreds of additional
police and paramilitary troops onto the streets of the
country`s largest city to try to quell the unrest.
The violence in Karachi has been blamed on supporters
of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), based among the
Urdu-speaking majority, and the rival Awami National Party
(ANP), which represents ethnic Pashtun migrants.
Sporadic gunfire echoed around the port city`s eastern
districts of Malir, Khokhrapar and Landhi overnight, residents
said. Most of the criminal gangs are believed to be hiding in
the impoverished neighbourhoods.
"At least 16 people have died over the past 24 hours,
they were victims of ethnic and sectarian violence," city
police chief Saud Mirza said.
"We have rushed additional police force to the
troubled areas and the situation has improved.
One senior police officer said that two mortar shells
were fired in the clashes between rival activists.
The MQM last month quit the coalitions led by the main
ruling Pakistan People`s Party that govern the country and the
southern province of Sindh, of which Karachi is the capital.
The ANP remains part of both coalitions.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan says 490
people were killed in targeted killings in Karachi in the
first half of the year, compared to 748 in 2010.
Four days of unrest killed 95 people before troops
took back areas of Karachi held by armed gangs on July 9.