KARACHI, July 14: At least 15 people, including two law-enforcers, were killed and over 25 others sustained gunshot wounds while 32 vehicles and three shops were burnt in arson attacks by Thursday evening in a fresh wave of violence that erupted in reaction to a statement of senior minister Dr Zulfikar Mirza shortly before midnight.

Tension gripped the entire city with closure of shops and traffic disappearing from the road as armed men resorted to heavy firing and groups of youths carried out arson attacks in different areas soon after the statement of senior minister targeting the Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief was aired by TV channels.

In reaction to the statement, the Mohajir Rabita Council demanded that Dr Zulfikar Mirza and Awami National Party leader Shahi Syed leave Karachi within 48 hours otherwise strong protests against them would continue. However, the MRC suspended the protests when MQM chief Altaf Hussain appealed to the people to end all peaceful demonstrations, said MRC General Secretary Arshad Siddiqui on Thursday evening.

“President Asif Zardari has summoned Dr Mirza to Islamabad and we are waiting for his decision. Till then we have postponed all our protests on the appeal of the MQM chief,” he said, adding that President Zardari should take immediate action and remove Dr Mirza from his post.

While the fire department didn’t have the accurate number of vehicles torched in different parts of Karachi since late Wednesday, according to a police handout 32 vehicles and three shops were burnt in arson attacks. The police arrested a total of 253 suspects, including alleged arsonists, in Karachi and Hyderabad and seized 14 pistols and four revolvers found in possession of some of them.

“I would have a complete data of the burnt vehicles tomorrow [Friday] morning, but I think most of the vehicles have been burnt in the Korangi area,” Chief Fire Officer Saleem Ehtesham told Dawn in response to a query.

Arsonists set fire to nine buses parked at the 2-K bus terminal, near Sakhi Hasan Chowrangi, in North Nazimabad on Thursday evening. Earlier two trailers loaded with goods were torched in Nazimabad in the early hours of Thursday.

Arson attacks continued during the day as dozens of vehicles — rickshaws, buses, trucks, mini-trucks, trailers and private cars — were reduced to ashes in different parts of the city.

The chief fire officer said most vehicles were torched in the Korangi area, where according to the police 12 vehicles including trucks and trailers were set ablaze.

A woman in the Husainabad area within the remit of the Azizabad police station became the first casualty of this wave of violence. The police said she suffered a gunshot wound late Wednesday night. She was rushed to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where she was pronounced dead, they added.

A Rangers man travelling in a rickshaw in plain clothes was gunned down by armed riders on Thursday, police said.

Sepoy Mohammad Iqbal was intercepted near Maskan Chowrangi, said an official of the Mobina Town police station. The armed riders shot at the official and fled. The victim was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The police said that the deceased was on leave when he was targeted.

A police van on Jamia Millia Road was attacked by armed men, said an official of the Al-Falah police station.

The firing on the police van left Constable Aftab Ali Shah wounded. He was taken to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, where he died during treatment.

The victim was posted at the Razzaqabad Training Centre, the official said.

In the Saeedabad area of Baldia Town, three people were killed in different incidents of firing, the police said.

A 14-year-old boy was killed within the remit of the SITE-A police station. The victim’s body was taken to hospital for medico-legal formalities. The body was later shifted to a morgue for want of identification.In Surjani Town’s Sector 4-A, a young man, Hafeez, was found shot dead.

In the Pak Colony area, Qasim, son of Noor Mohammad, was gunned down. A motorcyclist, Mohammad Saeed, was shot dead within the remit of the Mauripur police station, officials said.

In the early hours of Thursday, the trussed-up body of a man, in his early-20s, was found in the Moosalane area, police said.

The body bearing gunshot wounds was spotted within the remit of the Kalakot police station, they said.

In Gulistan-i-Jauhar, a young man was shot dead by unknown persons, the area police said. They added that Waqas was targeted near Jauhar Mor.

Another man, Waqar, was gunned down near A-One Chowk within the remit of the Shah Faisal Colony station, the officials said.

Firing near a famous kebab restaurant on Shahrah-i-Quaideen resulted in the death of a youngster, Adnan, early on Thursday morning, the area police said.

A 28-year-old watchman, Asim Khan, was gunned down within the remit of the Gulshan-i-Maymar police station, officials said.

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