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Protestors burning things after snatching them from shops during the clashes between two groups at Old Sabzi Mandi. — Online Photo by Naeem-ud-Din

KARACHI: A dispute between two groups over a piece of land in a shantytown along University Road turned into a violent clash on Wednesday that left some three vehicles and half a dozen road stalls burnt, police said.

They said there was an old dispute between the Lasharis and Panhwars, settled in Liaquat Basti behind Askari Park near old Sabzi Mandi, over two plots (LB- 172 and 173). Both groups claimed the ownership of the plots though members of the Lasharis clan started construction on them a couple of days back.

“Early in the morning elders of the two sides had a heated debate over the matter,” said Inspector Asif Munawwar, the SHO of the PIB Colony police station. “The situation turned ugly when people from one side attacked the other and it sparked a violent clash between the two sides, using arms and sticks.”

The armed men were seen moving freely in the street firing shots into the air. The situation kept traffic suspended on University Road for more than an hour. Witnesses said women and children from both sides were also seen involved in the clash, throwing stones on their rivals.

Before the police and Rangers moved in, a motorbike, two pickups and some half a dozen roadside stalls were set on fire in Liaquat Basti. An official at the central fire station said the fire tenders did not access the affected area for security reasons.

“Heavy firing did not allow the firefighters to move into the area. The properties were almost burnt to ashes before the situation normalised,” he added.

The police claimed to have rounded up more than half a dozen persons with the assistance of Rangers, and said it took more than an hour to control the situation. Later, delegations of “elders from both groups” were summoned at the SSP-East office where senior officials mediated between the two sides to resolve the dispute.

“We have some 15 suspects under interrogation. An FIR (89/2013) has been registered on the complaint of one of the victims, Rahmat Lashari, and once proved through initial investigation the suspects would be nominated in that FIR,” said the PIB Colony police station SHO.