Image shows a young man, who is bleeding apparently due to gunshot wounds, runing for his life after unknown assailants opened fire at a rally in Karachi on May 22, 2012. The HRCP said last year a total of 1,715 people were killed in violent flare-ups in the city plagued by ethnic and politically-linked bloodshed.—Photo by Faysal Mujeeb/Whitestar

KARACHI: Ethnic, sectarian and politically-linked violence in Pakistan’s financial capital Karachi has killed at least 740 people so far this year, a human rights organisation said Tuesday.

Parts of the port city have become battlegrounds, with authorities unable to prevent violence blamed on activists from political parties representing rival ethnic groups.

“About 740 people have been the victims of violent shootings in the last five months,” Zohra Yusuf, chair of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), told AFP.

The HRCP said last year a total of 1,715 people were killed in violent flare-ups in the city, which is Pakistan’s biggest with an estimated population of 17 million.

The attacks often lead to punishing financial losses for Pakistan’s economy as swathes of Karachi go into lockdown, with residents fleeing the violence and shops and markets closing.

“People are being killed with impunity by various ethnic groups while the government, it seems, has little control to put an end to it,” Yusuf said.

The figures include the assassination of 107 political activists, while the rest of the victims were people with no political affiliations, HRCP said.

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