Karachi: At least seven people were killed in separate incidents of violence in Pakistan`s biggest city and financial hub, while businesses were forced to close down across the city at gunpoint by unidentified gunmen.
Panic and fear spread across the metropolis as reports poured in of unidentified gunmen firing in many parts of the city, forcefully closing down businesses and blocking roads. Unknown individuals also torched vehicles and set tyres on fire in the worst affected areas.
Soon after the violence began the Mutthaida Qaumi Movement the single largest party in Karachi also appealed that businesses and public transport remain shut in the city until those responsible for the Abbas town bombings three days back which killed 48 people and left around 135 injured were arrested.
But the MQM central committee late evening held a press conference to announce they had withdrawn their call for the strike and closure of businesses. "We have withdrawn our appeal after a meeting of the central committee," MQM leader, Reza Haroon said.
He said all businesses and markets will remain open as usual and public transport will also ply on the roads. Soon after the MQM announcement petrol pumps, shops and markets started reopening in the city which has been in a state of mourning and shut down since the Abbas town bombings.
Seven people killed in incidents of violence across the city. Police said a number of gunshot injuries were also reported in the city due to the violence earlier in the day.
Rangers in Karachi, who had earlier carried out an operation in the city, arrested a number of suspects involved in the forceful closure of marketplaces.
To complicate matters and add to the panic and fear in the city, a massive fire broke out in the new Sabzi Mandi market located just outside the city on the super highway.
Police said that over 1,000 shops and stalls were burnt as due to the situation in the city fire engines took time to reach the site.
In another development, Chief of the Army Staff General Pervez Kayani visited the Corps Headquarters in Karachi on Wednesday where he was briefed about the security situation in the city.
"During his visit COAS was briefed about the security situation in Karachi," said a statement by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).