KARACHI: At least eight people, five political activists among them, were gunned down in different areas of Karachi on Wednesday as target killings remerged in full fury, prompting fresh fears among people that the scourge is beyond the control of political and security administrations in the province. There was no word from key officials in the provincial set-up about government efforts to put an end to the bloodshed as death toll swelled to 15 in three days of violence. However, police officials claimed that efforts were being made to stop the menace from spreading to so far unaffected parts of the city.
In the deadliest incident on Wednesday, four men on two motorbikes attacked a group of four people in Sector 10 of Orangi Town, killing three of them on the spot and leaving one severely injured.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) claimed that the victims were its activists.
“The armed men fired on them when they were sitting at the corner of a street popularly known as Mohajir Chowk,” said SP Khurram Waris of Orangi Town.
“They fled after the firing, leaving 24-year-old Waqas Tariq, 44-year-old Zaheer Hanif and 38-year-old Habib Rafiq dead.
Another man, Muhammad Irfan, sustained a bullet wound in the abdomen and survived.”
The incident sparked panic in the locality and traders closed of their shops. Transport disappeared from the streets in densely populated neighborhood.
A large number of MQM activists and leaders of the party went to the hospital to offer condolences to the family and fellow workers.
The MQM, which is a coalition partner of the PPP-led provincial government, demanded immediate arrest of the killers and swift measures from the federal and provincial authorities to curb the new cycle of violence.
“Armed terrorists have been given a free hand to target MQM workers and over the past 24 hours some seven party activists have been killed,” an MQM statement said.
The Orangi incident triggered violence in New Karachi where a bus driver was shot dead near Saba Cinema.
“The driver has been identified as 53-year-old Barkatullah. He was a resident of Malir and originally hailed from Khyber Pakhtunkhawa,” said an official at the New Karachi Industrial Area police station.
A few minutes later, more than half a dozen armed men on four motorbikes attacked a restaurant on the University Road near Old Sabzi Mandi, killing a 45-year-old man who was there with friends.
The victim was identified as Chaudhry Saqib Nadim. But some people attacked the assailants and killed one of them and injured another, said an official of the New Town police station. The injured suspect was later handed over to police.
Earlier in the day, tit-for-tat killings claimed the lives of an Awami National Party (ANP) activist and an elderly member of MQM in New Karachi area. The two incidents took place in Ayub Goth, a poor neighbourhood between Super Highway and New Karachi.
“In first incident, 26-year-old Hazrat Ali alias Hero was intercepted by two men on a motorbike near Street No 1 of Sindh Cooperative Housing Society in Ayub Goth area,” DSP Iftikhar Lodhi, the area’s supervisory police officer (SPO), said.
Ten to 15 minutes later, armed men on two motorcycles attacked 60-year-old Shahbaz alias Shabbu. He had a poultry shop in the area and was said to be associated with MQM.
The fresh wave of violence coincided with the presence of Interior Minister Rehman Malik in the city.