KARACHI, Jan 17: Violence broke out in parts of Karachi and other cities of Sindh minutes after the killing of Muttahida Qaumi Movement member of the Sindh Assembly Syed Manzar Imam and his three security guards on Thursday when at least five people, including a woman, were killed and a dozen others wounded, and eight vehicles were set ablaze.
Police authorities recognised that four people in Karachi and a woman in Hyderabad were shot dead in separate incidents of firing reported after the ambush of Mr Imam’s car in Orangi Town in the second half of the day. However, a spokesman for the Sindh police said the incidents needed to be investigated before arriving at any conclusion.
“Four people died from bullet wounds in different city areas after the Orangi Town incident,” SSP Shaukat Imran said. “Similarly, a woman in Hyderabad sustained a fatal bullet wound. If you see the trend, the city witnesses gunshot casualties almost every day for different reasons, so it’s a little too early to declare these killings as part of the violence after Mr Imam’s killing.”
He said three vehicles — a truck, a minibus and a van — were set ablaze in different Karachi areas and in Hyderabad a car met the same fate. A vehicle was also set on fire in Larkana. A total of eight vehicles were torched across Sindh in arson attacks. The firing incidents after the MQM legislator’s murder left 14 people wounded in Sindh with a majority of them reported in Karachi, he added.
As the bodies of the Orangi Town victims, including Mr Imam, were taken to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, Karachi, many areas plunged into fear, panic and violence, which however remained less than the August 2010 situation when violence triggered by the murder of Raza Haider, a senior MQM leader and member of the Sindh Assembly, claimed more than 25 lives and brought the city life at a standstill.
Random gunfire in different city areas forced traders to pull down shutters, and transport started disappearing from the roads. By sunset, the city was completely shut down with almost all fuel stations closed. Buses went off the roads and business centres wrapped businesses well before their scheduled time of closure.
Orangi Town, Abul Hasan Ispahani Road, Korangi, Landhi, North Nazimabad and New Karachi emerged the worst affected areas. Several roads were blocked with burning tyres and people sensing disturbance in the city after Mr Imam’s killing tried to rush home, causing a traffic mess on major roads, including Sharea Faisal, Shahrah-i-Pakistan, Rashid Minhas Road, Sir Shah Muhammad Suleman Road, Stadium Road and M. A. Jinnah Road.
In Bhitai Colony on Korangi Road gunmen riding a motorcycle targeted 26-year-old Qari Mohammad Talha, who later died from wounds in the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre. The Ibrahim Hyderi police said the victim’s association with any group was immediately not clear, but he belonged to the Deoband school of thought.
In another incident in Korangi, two students of a seminary were attacked near Godown Chowrangi.
“The two — Mohammad Hasan and Noor Fayyaz — are students of a religious seminary belonging to the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazal and situated in the Korangi Industrial Area,” said an official at the KIA police station. “Hasan died on the spot and Noor Fayyaz was admitted in a critical condition to the JPMC with a gunshot wound in the head.”
In the Rahimabad area of Korangi 3½ armed riders attacked a 35-year-old worker of the JUI-F, Asghar Noorani.
“Hit by two bullets in the head, he died on the spot,” said an official at the Zaman Town police station.
Amid scattered violence, a suspected bandit was also killed by a policeman posted at a bungalow in PECHS. The area police said the incident took place in PECHS Block-2 within the remit of the Ferozabad police station, where two suspects on a motorcycle came to a bungalow and tried to enter it forcibly.
“A policeman posted outside the house tried to resist them on which they opened fire and escaped,” said an official at the Ferozabad police station. “The police constable opened fire at them, hitting one of the suspects in the head, who fell from the moving bike and died on the spot. However, his accomplice sped away.”
Similar scenes were witnessed in Hyderabad, where gunfire and arson attacks left a 40-year-old woman dead, a man wounded and a car burnt. The victim was identified as Nazia aka Nazo, a resident of Qazi Qayyum Road, who worked as a maid.
Firing incidents were also reported in Gari Khata, Saddar, Tilak, Phulelli, several units of Latifabad, Pinyari, Hussainabad and the Cantonment area. Almost all shops and main commercial centres were closed in the affected areas by 3pm that left people in the commercial districts and passengers waiting for buses stranded on roads.
In Mirpurkhas, two people were wounded in indiscriminate firing in the Bhansinghabad area, Mirwah Road. Moazzam Ali, one of the two wounded and the owner of a fuel station, told the police that his workplace was attacked by armed riders in the evening that spread panic and fear in the area.
Shops, commercial district and fuel stations of the city and neighbouring towns came to a halt in the evening following heavy gunfire. Charged youths also took to the streets, burnt tyres and staged protest demonstrations against Mr Imam’s killing. Traffic remained thin on roads and public transport disappeared in Sanghar, Khipro, Umerkot and Mithi as well.
After a series of violent incidents in Karachi and several other cities, Sindh braced for another closure on Friday as the MQM announcement of three-day mourning over the MPAs killing attracted ‘no business’ commitments from different trade and transport organisations in Sindh cities.
The Private Schools Management Association announced that all Karachi schools would be closed on Friday ‘due to the uncertain situation’ as the University of Karachi and the Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology (Fuuast) postponed the exams scheduled for Friday.
The KU fixed Jan 24 as the next date for the postponed papers, and Fuuast said it would announce a date later.
Traders and transporters followed the trend as the Sindh Tajir Ittehad and the Karachi Transport Ittehad announced that they would keep businesses closed and buses off the roads, respectively. Life in other Sindh cities is not expected to be very different on Friday as business and transport bodies in the province announced that they would stay away from regular business on Friday.
The Hyderabad Chamber of Commerce announced that there would be no business on Friday as the Sindh Bus Owners Association – representing transporters across the province – said they would not operate on Friday. Business and transport associations of Tando Allahyar and Mirpurkhas also made similar announcements.
All commercial centres, including the main bazaar, clock tower and Sarafa bazaar, in Sukkur were shut down in reaction to the MPA’s killing in Karachi as unidentified men resorted to aerial firing across the city.
Business and commercial activities were also wrapped in Kandhkot and firing into the air was also reported there.