Karachi: Godhra Colony gun battle claims three lives
KARACHI: The Godhra Colony area of New Karachi turned tense on Thursday after an armed clash broke out between two religious groups in which three people, including a woman, were killed and half a dozen others wounded, officials and witnesses said.
The gun battle was so intense that the police were unable to penetrate the affected area, they added. A police official said the armed clash broke out over a dispute on the administration of a community-run hospital in Sector 11-G of New Karachi, commonly known as Godhra Colony, that led to firing from both sides — the Sunni Tehrik and the Ahl-i-Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), formerly known as Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan. However, they said that only passers-by and area residents became victim of the intense firing while law-enforcers remained unable to arrest any armed suspect.
An official at the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital said that they received two bodies, later identified as 25-year-old Faisal and Latifa Khatoon, and six wounded people that included two women.
“All the victims are the residents of the same area and a few injured people told us that they came under the crossfire in Sector 11-G.
“The wounded include Latif, Sharifa Bibi, Ismail, Asif, Junaid and Amina Bibi,” he said, adding that two of the victims needed immediate surgeries and were taken to the operating theatre.
The police said that another man had been killed in the firing whose identity could not be confirmed. The police remained unable to control the situation for hours while lack of required strength appeared to be a major hurdle in getting access to the affected parts of the area.
“We have called in more force from the neighbouring town while a number of APCs [armoured personnel carriers) have also been sought as the intense and frequent firing is a major hurdle in accessing the affected areas,” SP Malik Zafar Iqbal of New Karachi Town said in a brief response.
The area residents said that armed men also damaged roadside stalls in the clash while a number of people busy outside their houses were trapped in the crossfire with no help from the law-enforcement agencies.
“The facts about the whole episode are not clear yet, but initial findings show that there is a community-run hospital in the area. The dispute between the two groups [the ST and the ASWJ] started over the administrative control of the hospital. It has been a long-standing dispute between the two sides, but today [on Thursday] it turned violent,” said DSP Tahir Khan, the area`s supervisory police officer (SPO).
A spokesperson for the ST, however, denied its clash with any group, saying that the party activists were attacked by “armed members of a banned outfit”.
“They even attacked our office in the area and held several area people hostage. It is beyond our understanding how members of a banned outfit can operate freely and target their rivals,” he added.
The spokesman for the ASWJ, however, said that his party workers were attacked when they were returning home from hospital.
“A number of our workers have been critically wounded. The police and the administration are protecting the attackers while lives of our workers in the area are threatened,” he added.