KARACHI, March 24: Fear and tension persisted in the strife-hit areas of Orangi Town and neighbouring localities that witnessed at least four targeted killings followed by intermittent firing and an arson attack on a passenger bus on Thursday, police and witnesses said.
Over the last few days, nearly 50 people have lost their lives to the fresh spate of targeted killings on ethnic and political grounds in the city that has witnessed quite a few such waves of violence for the past many years.
The killing of an activist in Qasba Colony sparked violence in Orangi Town on Thursday in which a passenger bus was targeted by arsonists.
Earlier, a youngster was gunned down in North Nazimabad while he was walking home after visiting a medical store in the area.
The police said that armed men on a motorbike fired at 28-year-old Barkat Ali near Ship Owners’ College Road neighbouring North Nazimabad’s block S.
“The firing left him badly wounded and he was shifted to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, where he died during treatment,” said an official at the Shahrah-i-Noor Jehan police station.
“He was a resident of Mianwali Colony and originally hailed from Gilgit-Baltistan. He was settled in the city with other family members for the last several years.”
Shortly afterwards, an activist of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement was killed in an armed attack in Qasba Colony that also left his friend wounded.
The area police said Javed Azeem along with his friend, Mohammad Noman, was attacked in Charpai Wali Gali near Qasba Colony No 2-1/2. The officials said that Javed Azeem died on the spot and his friend, who suffered a gunshot wound, was admitted to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital for treatment.
Javed was a resident of Orangi Town’s Sector D-1, the police said.
The police authorities believed that the two youngsters were targeted on ethnic and political grounds, respectively. “Presumably Barkat was targeted on ethnic grounds in reaction to a youngster’s killing on Wednesday, while Javed was said to be targeted in politically rivalry,” said DIG West Sultan Khawaja.
“But we have encouraged the leaders of all parties to nominate anyone in the FIR they suspect in the incident. Similarly, instructions have also been issued to the investigators to cooperate with the party leaders in tracing those suspects.”
The Qasba Colony killing caused a breakdown of law and order in the neighbourhood where a passenger coach was set on fire in Orangi Town No 1 and a man waiting for a bus at a stop in Orangi Town Sector 11½ was gunned down.
The frequent gunfire in different parts of the densely-populated neighbourhood forced shopkeepers to pull down shutters while by traffic on different roads of the town almost disappeared.
“The passenger bus, Bilal Coach, bearing registration number JE-5434, was set on fire near Degh Wali Gali in Orangi Town No 1,” said an official at the Pirabad police station, adding that timely intervention of firefighters saved the vehicle from being completely damaged.
Just a few minutes later, a 45-year-old man was killed in an armed attack on a bus stop in Sector 11½ of Orangi Town within the remit of the Toori Bangash post of the Iqbal Market police station.
An official said 45-year-old Aleem Shah was targeted by armed men riding a motorbike at the bus stop where he was waiting for a bus.
“He lived in a residential facility on the hills of Toori Bangash and originally hailed from Mardan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa,” said Iqbal Market SHO Sub-Inspector Shaukat Tanoli.
Earlier in the evening, a youngster was gunned down at a shop in New Karachi area in what police suspected to be a targeted attack.
“Thirty-year-old Imran Akhtar was sitting at his elder brother’s shop in Sector 5-J of New Karachi near Sindhi Hotel when he was killed,” said an official at the New Karachi Industrial Area police station.
“The victim’s elder brother is an active member of the Jamaat-i-Islami and it’s not yet clear whether the armed men came to target his brother.”
The victim was settled in the UAE and returned only a couple of months ago, the official said, adding that Imran was married, with two children.
Later, the son of a senior MQM activist was found shot dead in the Al-Falah area of Malir, police said.
Thirty-three-year-old Syed Muqtadir Ali Naqvi was found shot dead in Shamsi Housing Society with a single bullet wound in the head, said an official at the Al-Falah police station.
“Father of two, the victim was a resident of Jinnah Square in Malir Town. His father, Syed Arif Ali Shah, is a senior member of the MQM in the area and the murder seems to be motivated by his political association.”