KARACHI, Dec 31: A predawn firing followed by arson and gun attacks left two activists of the ruling parties dead and three shops, two vehicles and a house in Bazarta Line destroyed, sowing fear into the densely-populated neighbourhood on Monday, officials said.
It took the law-enforcement agencies more than eight hours to restore order before normality returned to the area within the remit of the Saddar police station, the officials added.
They said violence sparked shortly after the killing of an elderly activist of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in the early hours of the day. Abdul Sattar, 54, had sustained a fatal bullet wound in the head near his home in Bazarta Line along Sharea Faisal, the police said.
“The 54-year-old victim was a member of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) elders’ wing,” said area’s deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Ahsan Malik.
“Tension gripped the locality following the attack, but violence erupted when the news of the victim’s death spread after medico-legal formalities at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre.”
Sources in the police said that at least two cars, a hi-roof van, a shop, a refrigerator repair shop and a two-storey house were set on fire just a couple of hours before sunrise.
While the law-enforcers moved into the area and managed to restore order after some time, the efforts proved short-lived as a 40-year-old worker of the Pakistan People’s Party, Nawazish Ali, was gunned down in the same neighbourhood.
The shooting was carried out in a street near Gora Qabristan along Sharea Faisal, the police said.
“The deceased was our senior activist and originally hailed from Mandi Bahauddin in Punjab,” said Sohail Abidi, senior leader of the PPP Karachi and currently holding PPP central president office. By the time fire tenders reached the site, the blazes had done enough damage.
DSP Malik refrained from giving details of the property owners and reasons of the targeted attacks.
Senior leaders of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) said the house that came under an arson attack belonged to their senior worker. The property worth millions of rupees was reduced to ashes, they said. “Each and every property attacked belonged to area leader of the PPP Imtiaz Khattak,” said Mr Abidi.
“It’s sheer brutality. At a time when the PPP leadership is making efforts to revive peace in Karachi, miscreants are targeting PPP workers just to exploit the situation,” he added.
A sizeable number of women later staged a protest demonstration on Sharea Faisal over the violence, chanting slogans against the law-enforcement agencies.
The police had not registered any FIR of the multiple incidents till Monday evening. However, DSP Malik said, more than half a dozen people had been detained after violence and the case would be lodged after initial investigation.