KARACHI, Feb 6: Mostly young people were the victims of frequent targeted killing carried out in the city last year, with over 300 of them aged between 20 and 30, it was learnt on Sunday.

A total of 367 people were shot dead in different parts of the city last year and 309 of them were in their 20s, according to the figures collected by Dawn from the medico-legal sections of three major government hospitals — Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, Civil Hospital Karachi and Abbasi Shaheed Hospital.

“All the young victims had suffered gunshot wounds and the incidents of firing were reported in all the three zones of police organisational structure — south, east and west,” said an official, citing initial medico-legal examination reports.

About the remaining 58 victims of targeted killing, the official said that 37 people were in their 30s and 21 in 40s. He added that most victims were political activists.

The coalition partners in the Sindh and federal governments had often been at loggerheads over the rampant targeted killings during the last two years. It is still a source of serious concern both for law-enforcement agencies and political parties.

When the police force could not control the series of targeted killings, Rangers were given extended powers to restore the peace in the city. However, the paramilitary force too proved unable to deliver the desired results as the killings continued even in 2011.

Police investigators also could not solve last year's cases of over 300 targeted attacks that claimed the life of young people.

Speaking to Dawn , the political parties which suffered the most in frequent rounds of targeted killings agreed that young political workers were mostly the target of these attacks. The parties said that many victims were also the sole breadwinner of their families.

A Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader, agreeing to the fact that young workers suffered the most, said that activists of every age group were killed. He said that young people associated with the party had been targeted in almost every part of the city. “We even lost two brothers, cousins or close relatives within a family,” said Wasay Jalil of the MQM. “The targeted killings of MQM workers are nothing new as we have been suffering for decades and still are the major victims.”

Observers said that the life of young activists had always been at the highest risk whenever violence erupts. They said the number of young victims of targeted attacks in the last three decades would be in thousands.

“Major loss of young lives in Karachi's history of violence is [not a] new phenomena, young workers have always been prime targets as they are more exposed to threats in their line of work,” said Nazim F. Haji, the founding chairman of the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee.

“But, certainly, it should be a source of concern for everyone, especially political parties and the security administration of the country,” he said.