Karachi: Violence continued for the fifth consecutive day in the congested and impoverished Lyari area of the city today with one policeman killed and over dozen others injured as gun battles continued between law enforcement agencies and criminal gangs.
The death toll rose to 34 in the five days since the Karachi police began an operation in the area to flush out the criminal gangs, with seven policemen including two senior officials among the dead.
The total number of injured has also increased to around 90 with another 14 injured today when miscreants attacked a hotel with rockets and hand grenades in the Lea market area.
Lyari is situated in the old part of the city and is surrounded by wholesale markets and hotels which deal in commodities and currencies.
The effects of the Lyari operation have also been felt in other parts of Pakistan`s financial hub with hundreds of protesters blocking the Baloch colony bridge today and suspending all traffic from Shaheed-e-Millat road to Korangi.
Commuters reported that their vehicles were pelted with stones by the protesters who also mishandled some passengers.
There were also reports of commuters being looted by the protesters who were protesting the police operation in Lyari and carried placards and banners against the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party.
Lyari for years has been seen as a stronghold of the PPP.
The CID police senior superintendent Aslam Khan who is leading the operation claimed that police assisted by the Frontier Corps personnel have succeeded in clearing many areas in Lyari of the criminals.
"We have made dozens of arrests and several criminals with bounties on their heads have been killed in the ongoing gunbattles but they are taking away the bodies and hiding them to give the impression they are still in control," Khan said, adding that eight to ten criminals have been killed.
The violence continued through the day since last night when six people were killed in the violent exchange between the police and criminal gangs, who have been freely using rockets and grenades.
"Many houses have been damaged in the exchange of fire and by rockets and grenades," another police official said.
Khan also told reporters that the criminal gangs holed up in different areas of Lyari were being assisted by some Tehreek-e-Taliban militants and members of the Balochistan Liberation Army -- a separatist outfit from Balochistan.
"These people have the latest arms and explosives and are using them to push us back," he said.