KARACHI: Gunmen have killed at least 30 people in Karachi in the past 24 hours, raising tensions in the city as the MQM won PS-94 Orangi Town by-elections.
Saif-Ud-Din Khalid, the MQM candidate, won the seat and bagged more than 90,000 votes, according to unofficial results.
Supporters of the party had started celebrations in the area. Police had boosted security at polling stations in the by-election for a seat in the provincial assembly.
Meanwhile, target killings continued through out the second day. Police said they were still investigating the motives behind the shootings, but many so-called ”target killings” in Karachi have been linked to gangs controlled by the city’s main political parties.
”We cannot say whether all the killings were politically motivated or some gangs were involved because the killings took place in different parts of the city and were not confined to the area where the elections were being held,” Karachi police Chief Fayyza Leghari said.
The two parties most linked to violence in Karachi —the MQM and the ANP—have their electoral bases in different ethnic groups that make up a large chunk of the city’s population.
The ANP, boycotted the by-election after complaining that the MQM would rig the poll. It also said authorities had failed to provide adequate security.
The MQM accused the ANP of carrying out the killings, an allegation it denied.
“Soon after announcing its boycott of the by-election, ANP’s terrorists began killing innocent citizens in a bid to sabotage the election process,” the party said in a statement.
At least 25 people have been gunned down in Karachi since Saturday evening, said Zulfiqar Mirza, the home minister of Sindh province, where Karachi is the capital. He called on party leaders to come forward to ”help us turn Karachi back into the city of light and peace.”
”If someone has a complaint, it should not be settled on the street,” Mirza told a news conference. ”It is disappointing that we are shedding our priceless blood with our own hands.”
The dead include members of a broad range of ethnic groups in the city, he said.
Police have arrested at least 60 people in connection with the most recent shootings, Mirza said. But few killers in such cases have ever been brought to justice, and motives for the attacks have not been revealed.
Haider Abbas Rizvi, a senior MQM leader and member of Parliament, accused the ANP of being behind the shootings, saying ”19 of our workers and supporters have been killed so far.”
The MQM’s leadership was weighing all options in response to the violence, including withdrawing from the provincial coalition government, said a party source. The MQM has made similar threats in the past.
Senior ANP member Amin Khattak denied the accusation, saying, ”we are not involved in killings, and I think that this blame game should be stopped.”—Agencies