Karachi: At least 12 persons have been killed and over a dozen injured in fierce clashes between supporters of two political parties here, weeks after political violence claimed over 40 lives.
Tensions erupted between workers of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Awami National Party (ANP) following a clash between their supporters late on Friday night.
Two political activists, Sharif Khan of ANP and Muhammad Javed of MQM, were killed in target killings in Orangi town.
"The two activists were killed after trouble started over the opening of a new party office (of ANP) and some wall chalking," senior police officer Matiur Rehman said today.
Tensions between the ANP and MQM, which are members of the coalition governments at the centre and in Sindh province, mounted yesterday and six more persons were killed in clashes and shootouts.
Rehman said since then several incidents of aerial firing, torching of vehicles and target killings were reported in areas where the ANP and MQM have strongholds, taking the
toll to 12.
Fierce clashes between party activists were reported from several parts of Karachi, including Banaras Colony, Qasba Colony, Muslim Colony, Orangi Town and Liaqatabad.
"According to reports we have around 15 people have also been wounded in these incidents," Rehman said.
Armed men forced the closure of shops in some areas. They also torched a mini-bus and fired in the air.
Other police officials said in Bukhari colony three poor labourers were gunned down by armed men although they had no political affiliations.
With President Asif Zardari announcing that local bodies` elections would be held in four months time, many people are fearing violence between political parties will spread in Pakistan`s financial and commercial hub.
The latest killing spree came to a halt after both parties agreed to cooperate with law enforcement agencies.
Earlier this month, over 40 people were killed in clashes between supporters of the MQM and the Pakistan People`s Party, which heads the coalitions at the centre and in Sindh.
The MQM controls most of Karachi, the capital of Sindh and Pakistan`s financial hub, and political observers say the party does not like other groups encroaching on its turf.
Tensions between the MQM and the ANP have grown as increasing numbers of Pashtuns have poured into Karachi to escape the raging militancy in northwest Pakistan.
The MQM draws support from Urdu-speaking migrants from India while the ANP is backed by the Pashtuns.
Before the violence came to an end yesterday, the MQM issued a statement accusing an "ethnic party" of harassing "Urdu-speaking people".
On the other hand, an ANP spokesman said a political party and its workers were "targeting and killing Pashtuns".