Karachi: Pakistan`s biggest city was again caught up in a vortex of violence unleashed by criminal gangs, with over 50 people, including a popular MP of the ruling PPP, losing their lives over the past two days that also saw 13 employees of a private firm being abducted.
The trouble that started from Lyari and its adjoining areas in old Karachi early yesterday, escalated after Waja Karim Dad, former member of National Assembly, and four of his associates were gunned down at a restaurant, where they were breaking their Ramzan fast last evening.
At least 34 people have been killed since that incident last evening in the crime infested Lyari area. Police and rescue officials put the figure of the people
killed in the city since yesterday morning at around 52.
In a new twist to the wave of violence sweeping the city, seven to eight unidentified gunmen also kidnapped 13 employees of a private company and held them hostage for some time before releasing them with their coaster van.
In what has become a routine now, government and security functionaries went into emergency meetings and the provincial home minister Manzoor Wassan warned that the killers will be dealth with an iron hand.
"No one who is involved in such heinous crimes will be spared and plans are being chalked out to secure the city from such violence," he said.
The violence began from the old city area of Lyari and its adjoining localities yesterday and escalated after the former popular MP Dad and four of his associates were killed.
Lyari and its adjoining areas have for months been badly affected by gang wars between high-profile criminals, and political parties accuse each other of patronising these gangs.
Police officials said, the violence spread to nearby areas and this morning and bodies were found from different areas in gunny bags.
Police said five bodies all of members of one family were recovered from Mauripur, four each from Lasbella and Baldia town and three each from Garden and Ranchore lines.
The violence, and the killing of Dad led to a complete shutdown of markets in the old city areas of Lyari, Shoe Market, Bolton Market, Paan Mandi, Lee Market and Jodia Bazar.
Shopkeepers and traders in these areas have already been keeping their businesses shut to protest against regular extortion threats.
"We are getting chits from these extortion gangs and the total amount they demand from all parts of the city is anywhere between 3 to four million rupees daily," Siddiq Memon, President of all Karachi traders association said.
Raza Haroon, a lawmaker and senior leader of the Mutthaida Qaumi Movement addressed a press conference with his colleagues and accused the government of turning a blind eye to the systematic ethnic cleansing of the Urdu-speaking
"We have confirmed reports that in some areas people are being stopped and their national ID cards being checked after which they are kidnapped," Haroon said.
He blamed some government functionaries for supporting the Peoples Aman (Peace) Committee in Lyari, which it said was full of criminals, who were behind violence and ethnic killings.
"They want to spread their terror in the city but they are playing with fire," Haroon said.
Karachi has a deployment of 30,000 policemen, 18,000 para military rangers and 100 frontier constabulary soldiers who have failed so far to control the violence.
In many areas television channels showed residents complaining that there was no presence of security forces when terrorists and criminals resorted to firing, target killings and arson attacks.
Residents in Pan Mandi said the situation was very tense in the old areas with sporadic firing being reported at regular intervals.
Karachi has been badly hit by violence since last July with around 325 people killed last month in different parts of the city in target killings.