Karachi: Security forces Thursday arrested over two dozen suspects for the political-ethnic killings in Pakistan`s Karachi city as Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani called for action against the killers.
The paramilitary Pakistan Rangers, called in to control the situation, made the arrests under the Anti-Terrorism Act and seized a number of weapons from the suspects, Online news agency reported.
The violence -- which began late Tuesday, continued throughout Wednesday and spilled over to Thursday -- targeted activists of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the Awami National Party (ANP), the Muhajir Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), The News said.
The MQM is a junior partner in the Sindh and federal coalition governments, both of which are headed by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). The ANP is also part of the federal coalition.
Despite this, the MQM and the ANP have constantly been at loggerheads as they push the interests of their respective communities - the Mohajirs who migrated from India during independence and the Pushtoon-origin residents of Karachi.
Speaking to Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah Thursday, Gilani expressed grief over the violence and demanded "strict action" against the killers.
In wake of the deteriorating situation in the port city, Sindh Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza has convened a meeting of the Rangers, police and other officials.
According to the News, the killings sparked off torching of buses, forceful closure of markets, burning of roadside stalls and attacks on the police.
"The entire city was in the grip of tension, with public transport disappearing from the roads by (Wednesday) evening," the newspaper said.
Schools and colleges across the city remained closed Thursday while school examinations were postponed.
The violence began Tuesday night when Nabi Khan, an ANP activist and a mobile phone dealer, was shot dead in the Shah Faisal Colony. Within hours an activist of MQM, Mohammad Hanif, was killed in the same area.
Armed men opened fire near the MQM office, injuring two party activists.
Shah Faisal Colony turned into a virtual war zone, echoing with gunfire the entire night. The violence spread to other areas when armed men ransacked an ANP office in Dhoraji Colony, while a hardware shop in the Gulshan-i-Iqbal was also torched.
The violence continued unabated Wednesday as men kept firing and forcing traders to shut their businesses.
On Thursday, an ANP rally taken out to protest against the killings was ambushed near the Lucky Star area and its Mehmoodabad ward president was killed.