Karachi: Daylong violence in different parts of Karachi on Tuesday claimed at least 30 lives, 12 of them in an attack on a scrap market in Shershah area.
The city, which was already tense following early morning shootouts and killings in different areas, further descended into fear and panic after the Shershah attack. Scattered incidents of target killing followed.
At least 12 people, most of them shopkeepers and workers, were killed and eight others injured when about 10 unknown men opened fire.
The assailants stepped off motorcycles after entering one of the oldest scrap markets in the city and opened fire on shopkeepers.
A man, Anis Anwer, and his two sons, Umair Anis and Zubair Anis, were among the victims. Sources said that Anis Anwer had six daughters.
Some shopkeepers took refuge in their shops after pulling down the shutters. However, the armed men lifted the shutters and opened fire on those hiding inside, a witness told Dawn. “As we were pulling down shutters of our shop, five armed men came in the front and we ran away. When we returned after a while, we found our associates shot in the shop,” Hammad Siddiqi, a shopkeeper, said.
Some witnesses said the assailants stayed in the market for about 10 minutes and escaped on motorcycles into the narrow adjoining streets.
“The assailants were in their late teens and early twenties and were carrying AK-47 rifles,” Mr Siddiqi said.
The Special Investigation Unit’s SSP Raja Umar Khattab said spent bullet casings of AK-47 and M-16 rifles had been found at the place.
Pak Colony police were the first to arrive at the place, followed by Rangers and ambulances.
Some of the injured were taken to the Civil Hospital in vehicles of shopkeepers. There were 10 bodies and six injured people in the Civil Hospital and two bodies and two injured in Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, Police Surgeon Dr Hamid Paryar said.
Sindh Youth Affairs Minister Faisal Sabzwari said almost all victims of the Shershah attack belonged to the Urdu-speaking community. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement would observe a day of mourning on Wednesday. The attack was followed by several incidents of shooting in different areas, leaving several more people dead.
The bodies of three youngsters were found at the Ratan Talao Street off the M.A. Jinnah Road, with bullet wounds in their heads and chests.
Police said they had been shot from a very close range.
In Gulistan-i-Jauhar, four men riding on two motorbikes shot dead Abdul Khaliq and Jamal Khan at a roadside teashop near Rado Chowrangi.
In North Nazimabad, a fruit vendor, 28-year-old Akram Khan, was killed by armed motorcyclists on Shahra-i-Noor Jehan when he was returning to his home in Kausar Niazi Colony.
In Federal B. Area, the driver of a bus of route 7C was chased and gunned down by motorcyclists after he did not stop on their signal near Moosa Colony. Rafiq Murad, 37, was a resident of Saeedabad area.
The body of a youth and three men with bullet wounds were found near the Pak Colony police station.
A young man was shot dead by two men on a motorbike on the Abul Hasan Ispahani Road.
Earlier in the day, a 40-year-old activist of the People’s Amn Committee was found shot dead in Orangi Town’s Haryana Colony. Police said Abdul Hameed Sarbazi had been kidnapped on Monday evening.
The bullet-riddled body of Obaidullah, 29, was found in Sector 37-D of Landhi No.1.
He was said to be associated with the Afaq Ahmed-led faction of the Mohajir Qaumi Movement.
Two youngsters from Gwadar were gunned down in the Aurangzaib Market, Garden area. Abid Baloch and Salim Baloch were cousins and had come to the city to see an ailing relative. Police said they were killed by motorbike riders.
Nawaz Zikri Baloch, 35, of Mowach Goth was gunned down near Abbasi Cloth Market in Ranchhore Lines when he was going to his workplace.
The bodies of Mushtaq, 35, and a watchman were found late in the night in the Gutter Baghicha area of Pak Colony and near the Khairul Bashar mosque, North Nazimabad.
The MQM alleged that elements involved in ‘Lyari gang war’ were involved in the Shershah attack.
In a statement, the MQM coordination committee said there was credible information that Lyari gangsters Baba Ladla, Jabbar Langra, Faisal Pathan, Fahad, Mulla Raju, Shafi Magsi, Lal Mohammad Magsi and Zubair Wehsi had carried out the attack.
It said the attackers had gone to the junk market on motorcycles from Mewashah graveyard, but they were not intercepted by police.
Ahmad Hassan adds from Islamabad: As the latest wave of target killings entered its fourth day, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani telephoned Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan, Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah and Home Minister Dr Zulfiqar Mirza in the evening to discuss the situation in Karachi.
The Minister for Overseas Pakistanis and MQM’s deputy convener, Dr Farooq Sattar, also talked to the prime minister and informed him about the spate of firing incidents.
According to a handout, the prime minister said the situation called for joint efforts by all parties and a strategy to defeat elements intent on destroying peace in the city.