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Firefighters extinguish burning vehicles in the trouble area of Karachi on August 1, 2011. – Photo by AFP

 

KARACHI: Nearly two dozen people were on Monday shot dead, several others wounded and around 90 vehicles and some tea shops set ablaze in gun and arson attacks in different parts of the city, causing the Sindh home minister to approach the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Awami National Party to seek their support for what is being described as an indiscriminate action against culprits.

The strife-hit areas of the city witnessed 23 killings on the first day of the month, surpassing the daily average death toll of July during which a total of 318 people, including a few lawyers, had been killed.

In protest against the killings, representatives of the city and provincial associations of lawyers boycotted court proceedings and marched towards the Chief Minister’s House, demanding a judicial probe into the recent wave of violence.

The Surjani Town remained the worst-affected area with arson attacks on two minibuses, two trucks, several tea shops, eateries and pushcarts besides three killings.

Only a day ago, five people had been killed in the town.

In a major arson attack, at least 80 motorbikes were set on fire on the premises of a factory situated in the Sohrab Goth area.

No fire engine could rush to the spot because of security reasons.

When the SSP for district west was asked about the identity of the groups involved in the violence, he said that apparently the MQM and ANP were fighting it out. He said police had arrested some suspects involved in gun and arson attacks and also seized weapons found in their possessions.

However, the violence forced residents to stay indoors, traders to pull down shutters and transporters not to ply vehicles in the strife-hit areas.

Amid the renewed wave of violence, Home Minister Manzoor Wasan, in an attempt to muster their support and ease out the city’s volatile situation, visited the MQM headquarters, better known as Nine Zero, and met the members of the coordination committee of the party. They discussed the situation for over an hour and the minister assured the MQM leadership that their reservations would be addressed and requested the party to extend cooperation in bringing a durable peace to Karachi.

After meeting the MQM leaders, the minister reached the Mardan House, the ANP office, and met ANP leader Shahi Syed. They discussed the worsening law and order situation. The minister said the government wanted to take the parties on board before initiating an action.