Shutdown in Karachi as violence continues

Karachi violence
Karachi, Aug 23: Pakistan's financial hub shut down completely today (Aug 23), along with other areas of Sindh province, answering an MQM call for a day of mourning and protest against the raging political-ethnic violence that has claimed 19 lives over the past two days.

Five more people were found dead in the country's biggest city that has been a centre of unabated violence in which as many as 200 people have been killed this month.

Hardly any public transport was visible on the roads and even private vehicles were few as all shopping centres, markets and educational institutions remained shut.

Attendance in offices was also sparse as businesses remained closed in response to a bandh call by Muttahida Qaumi Movement.

MQM activists clad in black, hoisted black flags on buildings and squares and scenes of protests and tyre-burning were seen in different areas of Hyderabad and other interior areas of Sindh. Heavy firing was also reported from some parts of Karachi.

"We opened but shut down after a while as the situation is tense and there are no customers to deal with," a manager at a branch of a leading bank said in the city's main business centre, I I Chundrigar road.

Petrol pump and gas dealers associations also supported the MQM call, which was also being backed by other smaller religious and political parties.

Police said five people had been killed overnight in separate incidents of firing and torture talking the toll since Sunday night to 19.

A man was shot dead at the old vegetable market, while police found two bodies stuffed in gunny bags near Qasba chowrangi and in the Gharibabad area. 

Senior police officials also paraded four arrested target killers, Shahnawaz, Mustafa, Rafiq and Naeem belonging to the restive Lyari slum area at a media conference.

SSP Central, Captain (retd) Asim told the media that the four who were paraded before the media had admitted to 13 target killings in a month and confessed that they used to kidnap their victims and take them to a godown in Lyari before torturing and killing them.

The arrests of a Lyari gang appears to have confirmed reports that separatists from an outlawed Baloch insurgent group are present in the troubled Lyari neighbourhood and are stoking the ongoing violence in the city.

According to sources, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani was told in a briefing yesterday that Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) which is behind the Balochistan insurgency has been promised a safe haven in Lyari by ''some quarters''.

Officials from intelligence agencies, paramilitary rangers and police briefed the prime minister on the unabated violence in the financial capital of the country.

Sources quoted the acting director-general of Sindh Rangers as telling the prime minister that his paramilitary force could control the situation within two weeks, if given ''free hand'' by the political authorities. He sought powers to chase the terrorists and target killers even if they take shelter in the offices of any political or religious party.

The Rangers chief held out a firm assurance that his force could restore peace in the violence-plagued city with the help of police, if given full powers.


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