Karachi, July 7 – Another night of violence blamed on political and ethnic tensions in Pakistan’s biggest city Karachi killed at least 24 people, officials said Wednesday.
Feelings are running high between the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Awami National Party (ANP), which represent different ethnic communities and straddle volatile political fault lines.
Killings have been blamed on their loyalists.
“We have got reports that at least 24 people have fallen victim to targeted killings since Tuesday evening,” Sharfuddin Memon, an official of the southern Sindh province’s home ministry, told AFP.
He said the police had arrested 12 men with guns and ammunitions for alleged involvement in the targeted killings.
A police surgeon, Hamid Parhiar, said city hospitals had received the bodies of 15 victims.
A security official said tensions in the city’s western Orangi and Qasba neighborhoods, where gunmen were still opening fire intermittently, had left streets deserted and markets closed.
“Police and paramilitary troops are on the patrol in the troubled neighborhoods to avert further violence,” Memon said.
The police said five of the bodies were found on a bus in eastern Gulshan-e-Iqbal neighbourhood.
“We saw a bus parked suspiciously along a street and found bodies of five people — all shot dead — inside. Their identities are still unknown,” police official Mohammad Hashim said.
Both the rival political parties claim the dead included their activists and supporters.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan says 490 people were killed in targeted killings in the first half of this year. Last year, 748 people were killed. The figure for 2009 was 272.
Karachi is also plagued by sectarian killings, crime and kidnappings.
The MQM recently quit the Pakistan People’s Party-led coalitions that rule both Sindh, of which Karachi is the capital, and the federal government. ANP is still a coalition partner.