KARACHI, May 23: A man said to be a protester was killed and several others were wounded on Thursday when a stretch of Mauripur Road turned into a battleground between law-enforcement personnel and members of the Kutchhi community who had blocked the road to lodge their protest against the killing of their fellow members in the old city areas.

“One protester was killed in crossfire,” said police officer Haji Sanaullah.

He said he believed the protesters who blocked the road for a long time carried guns and in an exchange of fire between the police and the protesters, a man identified as Ibrahim Kutchhi, was killed in crossfire while another protester was wounded. He said five other persons sustained ‘minor injuries’ when the police fired tear-gas shells to disperse the crowd.

The Kutchhi community was protesting against the killing of community members following the resurgence of what the police official described as gang warfare between members of the Kutchhi Rabita Committee (KRC) and the People’s Amn Committee after the May 11 general elections.

The victim was stated to be a KRC ‘unit in-charge’.

Earlier in the morning, three Kutchhi men — identified as Khalid, 50, Adnan Iqbal, 35, and Ramazan, 50 — received bullet wounds when the two groups resorted to firing into the air in Baghdadi, Nayabad and Khadda Market.

A mob came out onto the road and blocked it near the ICI bridge, suspending traffic from morning till afternoon. Contingents of police and Rangers rushed to the spot and resorted to firing into the air and tear-gassing to disperse the mob. The violent clashes continued from 8am to 12noon as the traffic was suspended on the road. The vehicles running on the route dropped passengers at Merewether Tower citing disturbances near Crown Cinema.

In the meantime, violent clashes among rival gangs continued inside Lyari and four persons received injuries in a cracker attack in Hingorabad. The injured were identified as Gulzar Usman, 22, Muharram Usman, 18, Bilal Saleh and Abdul Shakoor Haroon.

The latest bout of gang warfare that erupted soon after the general elections has claimed lives of over eight persons and left several others injured as the law-enforcement agencies apparently failed to control the situation.

Lyari SP Najam Tarin told Dawn that the protesters were ‘violent’ and they blocked the road, resorted to firing and pelted moving vehicles with stones. He claimed that when the police and Rangers reached there, the protesters opened fire on them. “If they had held a peaceful protest and even if blocked the road for one or one-and-a-half hours peacefully, we might have tolerated it,” said the SP. But they continued the blockade of the busy road for four hours and protested violently.

Answering a question about the origins of the recent violent clashes among gangs, the Lyari SP said it started on polling day on May 11 when an activist of the People’s Amn Committee known as Nomi was killed allegedly by rivals.

Meanwhile, KRC spokesman Daud Kutchhi said that over the past four days around 12 Kutchhi men had been killed, but both civil and police authorities had not taken any action to control the situation nor any officer had been taken to task for their failure. He claimed that several troubled areas of Kalri such as Hingorabad, Mandhra Paro and Bihar Colony were deprived of power and water supplies. He said when they protested against it, law-enforcers fired at them. Mr Kutchhi alleged that Ibrahim was killed by “police fire”. He said around 12 protesters were wounded in shelling and firing on Wednesday.

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