Unidentified assailants shot dead 11 more people in the Pakistani port city of Karachi, taking the death toll in clashes between workers of rival political groups to 39 over the past three days.
The killings have increased tensions between the Pakistan People’s Party and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, which has threatened to quit the PPP-led coalitions at the centre and in Sindh province.
The violence is being seen as a turf war between the PPP and MQM for greater control over Karachi, Pakistan’s main economic hub.
Police said fierce clashes and indiscriminate firing were reported from Lyari, Garden and others parts of Karachi yesterday and 11 more people were gunned down in the latest violence.
Several more were injured in the violence.
PPP’s Karachi division president Najmi Alam said three workers of his party were among those killed yesterday.
MQM leaders, on the other hand, have alleged their supporters are victims of “target killings“.
They have called for the army to be brought in to quell the violence.
The violence prompted Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to contact MQM’s London-based chief Altaf Hussain on phone yesterday. The two leaders agreed to play their role in restoring peace and tranquillity in Karachi so that normalcy returns to the city.
Gun battles and aerial firing have been witnessed in many parts of Karachi’s old quarters over the past three days and gunmen also attacked security personnel.
The situation in several neighbourhoods dominated by the PPP and MQM was described as tense by law enforcement officials.
The violence also sparked riots and protesters hurled stones at vehicles and torched a car.
Commercial activities and normal life were affected by the tensions.
Residents of Lyari, a neighbourhood dominated by the PPP, organised a rally against the Sindh government and criticised the party’s leadership for the law and order situation.