KARACHI, March 27: The city descended into anarchy on Tuesday with nearly a dozen people shot dead, nine others wounded and over 40 vehicles set ablaze following the pre-dawn killing of a senior Muttahida Qaumi Movement worker and his elder brother in PIB Colony.
The daylong gun and arson attacks came as a grim reminder of the last summer wave of killings that came to a halt after police and Rangers were ordered by the Supreme Court in August to move in and establish the writ of the state. The measure worked but proved short-lived and violence broke out again within less than a year.
A police van parked on Stadium Road outside Liaquat National Hospital, where the bodies of the two brothers were taken, was the first to be set on fire before the violence spread to almost every district.
Early morning gunfire in different parts of the city compelled people to stay indoors, while the gun and arson attacks forced transporters, fuel station owners and traders to suspend their activities.
“We have confirmed reports of the killing of eight people, including MQM workers, and 35 vehicles were set ablaze in today’s violence,” said Sindh Home Minister Manzoor Hussain Wasan.
He added: “The killing of the MQM worker and his brother is definitely a condemnable act. Similarly, the violence after that is also a source of concern. The police and Rangers have been ordered for indiscriminate action against miscreants, and results will be apparent soon.”
In the gun attacks following the pre-dawn killing, the victims were drivers of public transport, labourers and common people, including four women who sustained bullet wounds.
In New Karachi, the driver of a route W-18 bus was shot dead before his bus was set on fire. “The young driver, Shahzad Mehsud, sustained three gunshot wounds and died in Sector 5A-1,” said an official at the Khwaja Ajmair Nagri police station. “The victim was a resident of Manghopir and originally hailed from South Waziristan. The body was handed over to the family after medico-legal formalities.”
A rickshaw driver, Taj Habib, met the same fate near Nishtar Park. The thirty-five-year-old driver was shot dead before the three-wheeler was set ablaze near Novelty Cinema, said an official at the Jamshed Quarters police station. “He originally hailed from Haripur and had been living here in Haji Mureed Goth for the past several years,” said the official. The rickshaw bearing registration number D-15690 was destroyed, he added.
In Korangi, a 50-year-old resident of Landhi No 6 was shot dead as he along with his wife was passing through Bagh-i-Korangi, a densely-populated locality near Singer Chowrangi, on his motorbike early in the morning. “His wife remained unhurt. The victim was later identified as Rizwan Fazal,” said an official at the Sharafi Goth police station.
In Manzoor Colony, another 50-year-old man was gunned down while he was opening his bakery in the morning. The Baloch Colony police said Azam Hussain was hit by a single bullet to the head.
“The victim, father of two, had been living near Gujjar Chowk for the past many years. He resided on the first floor of the building that has the bakery on its ground floor,” said the official.
Qasba Colony, noted for political and ethnic violence, turned tense with the killing of a 34-year-old political activist. Abdul Rasheed, a resident of Surjani Town, was gunned down near Kati Pahari, police said.
“He was a political activist as we came to know through different sources. There was a report of an armed clash between two groups after his killing but police with Rangers moved into the affected area and defused the tension,” said an official at the Pirabad police station. Independent sources, however, said the situation in the neighbourhood remained tense till night.
Thirty-year-old Mohammad Ali, a Toorani Goth resident, was targeted near his home in Orangi Town, said an official of the Pakistan Bazaar police station.
In Azizabad, a popcorn seller was shot dead near a mosque, police said. “Thirty-year-old Zardar Gul used to sell popcorns on his pushcart near Baloch Hotel and Riaz Masjid. He was a resident of Bhangoria Goth,” said an official at the Azizabad police station.
After the sunset, 30-year-old Ismail Khan was shot dead within the remit of the Al Falah police station.
In Landhi, a young man, Dilawar, was killed near a warehouse of rice, police said.
Earlier, an eight-year-old boy was killed and two men were wounded in crossfire in Landhi. A Rangers van came under attack when the law enforcers attempted to stop a black car near Chhoti Market, an area in Landhi 89, said DSP Majeed, the area’s sub-divisional police officer. “The four men in the car fired at the Rangers officials triggering an exchange of gunfire between the two sides that left eight-year-old Abdul Qadeer dead,” he said.
“Area people blamed the Rangers for killing the young man though witnesses said the boy was killed as a result of firing from the armed men in the car.”
A roadside teashop and more than three dozens vehicles, including two police vans, several minibuses and a rickshaw, were set on fire in different areas of the city, with the district east of the police organisational structure being the worst-affected part of the metropolis.
A police van was set ablaze on Stadium Road and another on Sir Shah Mohammad Suleman Road near the Aziz Bhatti police station.
“In Korangi and Landhi, six vehicles, including four buses, were set on fire,” said an official at the central fire office that counted a total of 42 vehicles burnt within a span of 12 hours.
“On a road stretch from Kala Board to the National Highway, a total of seven vehicles were torched. The areas within the remit of the Malir City, Saudabad, Khokrapar and Quaidabad police stations remained affected.”
Some half a dozen vehicles were destroyed in arson attacks on Sharea Faisal and an equal number of vehicles were set ablaze in Sohrab Goth and adjoining areas. Similarly, six vehicles were torched in Nazimabad and four in North Karachi.
“Some six vehicles were reported burnt in areas around Civic Centre, which is close to the PIB Colony where the MQM worker and his brother who were killed in the early hours lived,” said the official.
“In the evening, the situation turned a little better, yet reports have been received that a bus was set on fire near Edhi morgue in Sohrab Goth and another minibus in Landhi.”
The official said that a roadside teashop was also set ablaze in Federal B. Area’s block 12.