Karachi: Gunning down of a MQM lawmaker sparked bloody rioting in Pakistan's port city of Karachi as protesters went on a rampage torching vehicles, shops and houses leading to the death of 46 people.
Over 123 people were injured in the violence which began last night after motorcycle-borne unidentified gunmen shot dead Syed Raza Haider, a senior leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and a member of the Sindh assembly, his bodyguard and a MQM worker, officials said. Haider had gone to a mosque to attend a funeral when he was attacked. The killing infuriated Mohjahirs, who form the majority in this city, as they forced downing of shutters and attacked establishments belonging to the Pushtans.
There were reports of gunfire erupting in parts of the city. The violence continued in the city this morning too as protesters set on fire dozens of vehicles, petrol pumps, shops and houses as police and paramilitary forces struggled to gain control of the city. Incidents of violence, including firing by armed groups and arson, claimed 46 lives and left over 123 injured, TV channels quoted police and hospital sources as saying. The violence affected several areas, including Baldia Town, Orangi Town, Gulistan-e-Johar, Landhi and Korangi. Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Haider had received threats from the Sipah-e-Sahaba, a banned anti-Shia group. He said the killing would be probed jointly by police and intelligence agencies.
Police officials today said they had detained about 20 members of banned groups. Though large contingents of police and paramilitary Pakistan Rangers were deployed across Karachi today, the city wore a deserted look. People preferred to remain indoors and traffic on the roads was thin. Most shops and commercial areas remained shut. No group has claimed responsibility for Haider's killing. However, Malik said the Sipah-e-Sahaba and Tehrik-e- Taliban Pakistan were behind the violence in Karachi that is aimed at destabilising the country. PTI