Bloodshed, fear revisit Karachi
KARACHI: Bloodshed and fear revisited the city early on Friday morning after a brief break, leaving more than a dozen dead and over 30 wounded in the densely-populated areas of Malir and Landhi.
Most victims were political activists. Violence started when “activists of a political party attempted to make a comeback to Khokhrapar in the Malir area and targeted their opponents”, according to police.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement, which claimed to have lost a number of activists and sympathisers in the attacks, blamed a politically patronised group for the killings.
The deadly clashes lasted more than three hours, forcing people to remain indoors in many areas of Malir town.“The violence was triggered by some armed men’s attempts to enter the KDA area of Malir-Khokhrapar, and their attack on a unit office of the MQM,” said Saud Mirza, additional IG of Karachi. He did not name the political party to which the armed attackers belonged.
“Then it extended to other parts of the town and Landhi as well, claiming a total of 11 lives and leaving over 20 others wounded. We brought the situation under control within a few hours, and, assisted by Rangers, detained about half a dozen suspects,” he said.
The area police and residents said intense gunfire was heard within an hour after sunrise in the KDA area. Police said the armed men first attacked the MQM unit office and then killed a couple of party activists before fanning out to Khokhrapar No 2, Khokhrapar No 1, Ammar-e-Yasir Housing Society, Jaffar Tayyar Housing Society and Jinnah Square.
Figures gathered from medico-legal sections of hospitals and police put the death toll at 13 and the wounded, including two women, at 30 who are being treated at different health facilities.
A total of 10 bodies were brought to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre from the strife-hit areas of Malir and Landhi and the hospital’s casualty unit received 26 people with gunshot wounds.
Malir Town SP Zahid Hussain said the first victims included Akbar Jameel and Ghulam Murtaza of Khokhrapar G. Area, who were killed when they came out of their homes after hearing knocks at the doors. The MQM unit office 97, he said, also came under attack.
The killing spree raged on surprisingly without meeting any resistance from police and Rangers as the armed attacks in the Khokhrapar area claimed six more lives, five of whom were later identified as Naseer Ahmed, Muhammad Azeem, Jamshed Iqbal, Muhammad Nadim and Nawaz Ahmed.
One of the victims, who appeared to be in his early 20s, remained unidentified. The area people saw armed men on motorbikes, cars and hi-roof vans coming from Khokhrapar and moving into Ammar-e-Yasir Housing Society, F-South and Jafar Tayyar Housing Society.
They said they witnessed groups of armed men exchanging fire in the thickly-populated neighbourhood with labyrinthine streets.
According to Malir City police station, the incidents of firing left two people, Ibrahim and Muhammad Shafi, dead and five others wounded.
The violence spilled into neighbouring Landhi Town during the second half of the day, claiming three lives in separate incidents of firing and a hand-grenade attack near Chawal Godam, which sowed much fear and panic.
Ikram was shot dead in Muhammad Nagar within the remit of the Landhi police station and Mustaqeem Khan and Iqbal Khan alias Billu were killed in an attack on a bus near Hussaini Chowrangi within the jurisdiction of the Quaidabad police station.
A spokesman for the Mohajir Qaumi Movement-Haqiqi said that Billu was a senior member of the party and he was targeted while he was returning home on a bus along with fellow party activists.
He claimed that the party lost five senior activists, who were coming back home in Malir early in the morning when they came under attack. He, however, did not explain why they were suddenly returning to their homes they had left almost a decade ago.
Meanwhile, a house was set on fire in street No 8 of the Model Colony area of Malir. It was an abandoned house and no one was living there, according to the SHO of Model Colony police station, Inspector Jehanzeb.
But a spokesman for the MQM-H said the house belonged to a senior leader of the party, Maqbool Hussain alias Maqboola. The SHO said the people behind the arson attack remained unidentified.
Mustafa Kamal, former Karachi Nazim and member of the the MQM coordination committee, alleged that criminals were “allowed (to carry out) the assault under (tacit permission) of the security administration and individuals in the Sindh cabinet”.
He blamed “a few ministers” for supporting violence against the MQM and warned that the government change such a strategy before it was too late.
“We are getting tired of carrying bodies (of our comrades) over our shoulders,” he told reporters after attending funeral prayers of two MQM workers, Akbar Jameel and Ghulam Murtaza, at the main Kala Board bus stop linking Shahra-e-Faisal and the National Highway.