Karachi braves more violence, 24 arrested
KARACHI: Four people were killed in clashes between rival factions in Karachi on Tuesday but police said they were hopeful violence was easing off after days of bloodshed in which dozens of people have been killed, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, the Inspector General of Police, Sindh, placed twelve police officers under suspension and demoted them with immediate effect, in response to their failure to protect public life and property, PPI reported. Meanwhile, authorities on Tuesday arrested 24 men at an Afghan refugee camp on suspicion of involvement in the riots, officials said. We have arrested 24 men who were either directly involved in the violent acts or harboured the criminals, Sohail Zafar Chattha, a senior police official, told AFP.
Police and paramilitary forces also seized weapons and ammunition from the suspects in the operation.
Most of the suspects we have arrested are Afghan refugees. Some of them are locals, Chattha said.
Karachi is Pakistanis commercial hub and has a long history of political, ethnic and religious violence.
The latest clashes between ethnic-based factions have raised fears of a return to the chronic bloodshed that plagued the city in the 1990s.
The clashes broke out on Saturday between fringe elements within the citys Urdu–speaking community and ethnic Pashtuns from northwest Pakistan.
However, political leaders of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) – the major political party in Karachi which represents many Urdu-speaking residents – and the Awami National Party (ANP) – which represents many ethnic Pashtuns – continued to condemn the violence and blame it on hidden elements.
MQM minister Shoaib Bukhari told PPI that the involvement of hidden elements in this phenomenon cannot be denied.
According to Reuters, some commentators in Pakistan have raised the possibility of Indian instigation of the violence in Karachi as a response to last week’s militant assault in Mumbai, which India has linked to Pakistan.
Former primeminister Nawaz Sharif said he was surprised by the timing of the Karachi violence.
The killings in Karachi erupted suddenly after the Mumbai incident, Sharif told reporters. I m surprised how it erupted all of a sudden … I think this needs to be looked in to thoroughly, which forces are involved in it.
For the most part, violence has remained restricted to certain areas of the city such as Orangi Town, Sohrab Goth, Malir and to a lesser extent Gulistan-i-Jauhar.
However, many residents continue to be gripped by fear as a result of widely circulated yet unverified reports of violent mutilations being conducted by the rioters.
City police chief Waseem Ahmed said four people were killed in different incidents in the early hours of Tuesday but the city had been mostly calm since then.
There has been no major incident since the morning, Ahmed told Reuters.
At least 47 people have been killed and over 200 injured since Saturday, according to a tally of reports from police and hospitals.
Rivals fought gun battles and burned shops and cars in several parts of the city of 15 million people over the weekend and more disturbances erupted on Monday.
Police have been told to shoot trouble-makers on sight and have banned pillion riding on motor bikes.
All schools and colleges in the city were shut for a second day on Tuesday and public transport was thin. But operations at the country’s main port were normal, while financial markets and banks were open.
Ahmed said the violence had been confined to certain neighbourhoods where members of rival factions lived in close proximity and police convoys were patrolling those hotspots.