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Panicked families fleeing Lyari

Residents flee their homes due to fighting between Pakistani police commandos and criminals in Karachi's town of Lyari, Pakistan, Sunday, April 29, 2012.       — (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)

KARACHI: With the Lyari area of Karachi continuing to resound with gunfire and explosions of bombs and rocket-propelled grenades for the third consecutive day on Sunday, panicked residents have started leaving the locality for relatively safe adjoining places or other parts of the city.

Lyari looks like a virtual war zone with armoured personnel carriers of police in full-fledged action and gunmen hitting back with lethal weapons. The area is facing an acute shortage of foodstuff and other essentials. There is no water in most of the areas and parts of the locality were without electricity. People, mostly women, leaving their homes with their children said they wouldn’t be able to survive the hardship anymore.

The violence which appeared to be intensifying with each passing day claimed another four lives on Sunday. A policeman was among them.

Several people, including two DSPs and as many mediapersons, were injured.

“It is a curfew-like situation here in Lyari as police are firing indiscriminately during the so-called targeted operation,” a resident told Dawn.

“Somehow I managed to bring my children to my office in Clifton, because they had not got even a sip of water for more than 30 hours and were in a state of trauma in the absence of electricity,” said Elahi Bakhsh.

Several other families fled their homes because of continuing violence and closure of markets and the breakdown of power and water supply system.

Some moved to stay at their friends’ and relatives’ in other parts of the city, but there were many more who could not found a shelter.

Residents of the Lea Market area, Aath Chowk, Cheel Chowk, Afshani Gali, Ghareeb Shah, Bakra Piri, Chakiwara, Kumharwara, Kalakot and other affected parts said the authorities should have made some arrangements for the supply of food and other essentials.

“There’s no electricity here, we have heard that a pole-mounted transformer in our area has been damaged during the police operation,” said a resident, who was confined to their small apartment with his family in Kalakot, on the phone.

Food items and water were being sold at exorbitant prices in some parts of Lyari until yesterday, but that option too was no longer available, said a young resident of Chakiwara.

In a related development, IG Sindh Mushtaq Shah put all other units of the crime investigation department (CID) under the direct command of CID SP Aslam Khan asking them to assist him in the operation.