39 killed in Karachi violence

KARACHI: Violence between ethnic groups and criminal gangs killed 39 people in Karachi, police said Thursday, as the government again struggled for solutions to the unrest.A former MP for the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Waja Karimdad, was among those killed in the fresh wave of violence in Karachi, where hundreds of additional police and paramilitary troops were deployed last month.Independent economist A.B. Shahid estimated that 20 percent of the city’s business was shut down on Thursday with markets closed in southern neighbourhoods to protest against extortion money demanded by criminal gangs.The violence has been linked Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), and Awami National Party (ANP).

“The death toll in the violence since yesterday morning has gone up to 39,” city police chief Saud Mirza told AFP, adding that “the situation is getting better” after more police were deployed in the affected areas.Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani again dispatched Interior Minister Rehman Malik to Karachi and called for “immediate and across the board action against the criminals who were playing with the peace of the metropolis”.Malik drew widespread ridicule last month when he blamed 70 percent of the violence on angry wives and girlfriends, remarks that he quickly denied.

“Show no leniency to these elements who are there to ruin the city life,” the prime minister said, following talks with provincial and MQM officials, but stopped short of announcing any specific policies.Most of the killings have been reported in Lyari.”The situation is still very tense in Lyari and other areas of Karachi with sporadic gunfire being echoed around these neighbourhoods,” a senior security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

He blamed criminal gangs for the fresh outbreak of violence and said more paramilitary rangers and police had been deployed to the troubled areas.Victims and their families said many of those hurt were innocent bystanders.”Children were playing in the compound on Wednesday night when two men opened fire on them, killing my nephew Dheeraj, a young girl called Usha and an 80-year old resident,” said Kheraj Das.”We are poor people, we don’t belong to any political party. I am at a loss to understand why we were attacked and why our innocent children were killed.”The body of 28-year-old Shahnawaz, bearing signs of torture, was dumped in the market area of the neighbourhood on Wednesday, but his brother said he had no grievance with anyone, nor any political affiliations. – Brecorder