karachi violence thursday
A family on a motorbike rides past a burning vehicle set ablaze by protesters in Karachi, July 14, 2011. - Photo by Reuters

KARACHI: At least 15 people, including a woman, were killed and several had been injured in the violence that erupted overnight in Karachi, Hyderabad and other parts of Sindh, DawnNews reported.

Terror gripped Karachi as a number of localities in the city descended into violence Wednesday night soon after senior provincial minister Zulfikar Mirza heaped scorn on Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain.

In a fiery speech, Dr Mirza also confirmed that he had twice met Mohajir Qaumi Movement (Haqiqi) chief Afaq Ahmed and said that if Mr Ahmed was a criminal then Mr Hussain was an even bigger criminal.

“In my view, the real leader of the Mohajir nation is Afaq Ahmed who has been in prison for eight years and not a single case against him has been proved. In fact next to President Asif Ali Zardari he is the biggest political prisoner of the country,” Dr Mirza said while speaking to newsmen at the residence of Awami National Party leader Shahi Syed.

Before being led away by Local Government Minister Agha Siraj Durrani, Dr Mirza urged the people of Karachi and Hyderabad to rise and rid themselves of these ‘kambakht’ (the damned ones).

Several vehicles were set ablaze on Thursday and incidents of firing were reported in different parts of Karachi. The affected areas included Baldia Town, Gulshan-i-Iqbal, Gulistan-i-Johar, Orangi Town, Jahangirabad, Golimar, Korangi.

Hyderabad witnessed a similar situation as unidentified men opened fire, leaving one person dead and five others injured.

All examinations scheduled at the University of Karachi had also been postponed due to the city’s law and order situation.

Many flights from Karachi were delayed because crew members struggled to get to the airport through the violence.

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

The latest incidents come after a surge in ethnic and political violence in Karachi last week, which killed more than 100 people.

Leaders from the PPP sought to defuse the tension, saying Mirza's views were his own and did not reflect party policy, but that was not enough to contain the violence.

“I apologise to the Urdu-speaking people who were hurt by this statement,” Interior Minister Rehman Malik told reporters in Islamabad on Thursday.

“I am speaking on behalf of our leadership, and our entire leadership has disowned it.”

Wasay Jalil, a senior leader of the MQM, also condemned the violence.

“We are always for a peaceful protest and condemn any violence,” he said. “There are always forces which try and take advantage of the situation and disrupt the peace of Karachi.”

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