29 killed in Karachi ethnic violence (Lead, changing dateline)

Karachi, April 30 (Inditop) Shoot-at-sight orders were enforced in Pakistan’s financial capital Thursday after at least 29 people were killed in ethnic violence that saw unidentified attackers go on a shooting spree.

Paramilitary Sindh Rangers patrolled the streets as panic gripped the city following the violence between the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) and the minority Pashtun community, which saw most of the victims being killed at point-blank range. Twenty vehicles were also torched in the violence.

Karachi police chief Wasim Ahmed told Dawn that 20 people had been killed in the violence across the city, including “16 Pathans and three Urdu-speaking people”.

Hospital sources, however, placed the toll higher, saying some of the injured had succumbed to their injuries after being admitted for treatment.

Police said the trouble began early Thursday when armed men who had taken position on the hills in north Karachi rained bullets on the Zarina Colony shanty town in the foothills.

A worker of the MQM was killed at around 10.30 a.m. when he came under fire.

Police said a sub-inspector and a constable were shot and injured when law-enforcement personnel went to fetch the body.

North Karachi Superintendent of Police Farooq Ahmed told Dawn that police and Sindh Rangers returned fire, forcing the gunmen to retreat.

“Later, police and Rangers conducted a search operation in the hills, arrested 16 people and seized some weapons,” he said.

Eyewitnesses said Rangers’ commandos also reached the area and flushed the armed men out. A Ranger was shot and injured in the action, they said.

Another MQM worker was shot dead in Shah Faisal Colony.

The MQM represents the Mojahirs who migrated to the city after the partition of the sub-continent in 1947 and who are the majority community in the city. Its workers are at constant loggerheads with the minority Pashtun community.

Most of the violence occurred in Khawaja Ajmair Nagri, Surjani Town and New Karachi Industrial Area. The violence-hit areas wore a deserted look as shopkeepers pulled down their shutters and vehicles went off the roads.

Police surgeon Hamid Padhiar told Dawn that 12 people were brought dead to the Abbasi Hospital.

Seemin Jamali of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) said 11 bodies and 18 wounded people were brought to the hospital.

“Four wounded victims later died,” she added.

Sarwat Channa, the medico-legal officer at the Civil Hospital, said a man was brought dead from the North Nazimabad area and another from Teen Hatti.

“A man with a bullet wound was brought from Gulistan-i-Jauhar,’

Sources said that two bullet-riddled bodies were found at a post office in Sachal area. The bodies were taken to the JPMC late in the night.