Paramilitary soldiers patrol the streets of a neighbourhood affected by the violence in Karachi, July 7, 2011. — Photo by AFP

KARACHI: Shops and fuel stations were shut and public transport idled in Karachi on Friday after the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) announced a day of mourning against the latest surge in violence in the country's financial and commercial hub.

Although the MQM announced that it would stage what it said would be a peaceful protest, quashing rumours about a strike call by the party, panic gripped the city Thursday evening amid reports of violence in different parts of the city that forced closure of fuel stations and markets in several areas.

The protest march was called off on Friday.

Moreover, police and paramilitary troops were ordered on Friday to shoot on sight after 70 people were killed in three days of ethnic and political violence in Karachi.

“We have issued orders to the security forces to shoot anyone involved in violence on the spot,” Sharjeel Memon, the provincial information minister, told Reuters.

“In addition to the police and Rangers, another 1,000 personnel of the Frontier Constabulary will be deployed in the city to control the violence,” he said, referring to another paramilitary force.

Memon said 70 people have been killed in the city over the past three days, and dozens injured.

“Thirty-seven people were killed yesterday alone,” he said.

Karachi, home to more than 18 million people, has a long history of ethnic, religious and sectarian violence.

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