Killing and arson come back to torment Karachi

funeral prayer of Mansoor MukhtarKARACHI: The city descended into violence on Tuesday as gunmen and arsonists went on the rampage, killing at least 10 people and setting on fire over 40 vehicles.

The violence erupted after the killing of a Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s worker and his brother early in the morning.As the wave of killings and arson attacks continued, police and Rangers remained on the sidelines doing nothing to restore order.Police quoted witnesses as saying that four gunmen burst into the house of Mansoor Mukhtar, a member of the MQM’s sector committee, in PIB Colony at about 4.30am and opened fire on him, his elder brother Maqsood Mukhtar and his wife Uzma Mukhtar.

Mansoor and Maqsood died and Uzma was in hospital with serious injuries.Talking to reporters outside the hospital, Sindh Health Minister Dr Saghir Ahmed, who belongs to the MQM, accused members of the Amn Committee of carrying out the attack. He said the MQM had announced a day of mourning.Soon afterwards, violence engulfed different parts of the city; armed men took to the streets and started firing and setting fire to vehicles. The situation triggered panic in the city, forcing closure of markets.

A police mobile outside the Liaquat National Hospital was the first vehicle to be torched. Armed policemen in the vehicle ran for shelter to save their lives. By Tuesday night, over 40 vehicles were reduced to ashes.At least 10 people lost their lives and 15 others suffered injuries. Most of them were targeted by armed men on motorcycles. The victims were mostly daily wage-earners — rickshaw and coach drivers and conductors and roadside vendors.A driver was dragged out of a coach and shot dead in Khwaja Ajmeer Nagri area of North Karachi. The coach was set alight.

A rickshaw driver met the same fate in Jamshad Quarters area.A roadside restaurant was torched in Gulberg area.Parts of the city, including Orangi Town, were gripped by ethnic tension; with heavy gunfire taking place throughout the day.Even schools were not spared and were closed after receiving threatening call. A large number of children were stranded in schools with no means to return to their homes.Universities and colleges were also closed.

Main thoroughfares wore a deserted look and all petrol pumps were closed. Traffic was thin and public transport remained off the road in almost all areas of the city, including Clifton and Defence. FUNERAL: Funeral prayers of the MQM worker and his brother were held in Azizabad and were attended by a large number of people.Additional IG Karachi Akthar Husain Ghorchani said that a police team, headed by the DIG East, had been formed to investigate the killings and arson arracks. He said that about 12 suspects had been arrested.

AFP adds: “Our hospitals have received a total of eight bodies of victims from today’s firing incidents. They include an MQM member and his brother,” said police surgeon Hamid Parhiar.At least 38 vehicles, including buses, minibuses and trucks were torched, senior official Roshan Sheikh said.“We have been keeping Karachi peaceful for a long time and such incidents have been perpetrated by those who don’t want to see our country stable and peaceful,” MQM spokesman Wasay Jaleel said.The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said 1,715 people were killed in sudden flare-ups of violence in Karachi last year.Officials documented more than 100 deaths in one week in October in what was Karachi’s worst ethnic and political unrest in 16 years. – Dawn