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Political riots turn deadly in Karachi

Latest update : 2008-11-30

Several people were shot dead and shops torched in clashes between rival political factions in Pakistan's largest city, Karachi. The government has cleared troops to open fire in a bid to restore order.

(AFP) - At least 13 people were killed and more than 70 injured when activists from rival political parties clashed in Pakistan's largest city, Karachi, officials said Sunday.

Troops were authorised to use guns to quell the violence as members of the ruling coalition party Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) clashed with the Pashtun nationalist Awami National Party.

"In different incidents of firing by rioters, 13 people have been killed and dozens of others injured," Karachi police chief Waseem Ahmed said.

The rioters set shops on fire at the city's Timber Market and also torched push-carts in other areas of the city, witnesses said.

Doctors at Karachi's main state-run hospital said they had seen 77 people wounded in the riots since late Saturday.

The provincial government has deployed some 800 paramilitary rangers in the sensitive areas to help police control the situation, but intermittent gunfire continued in different parts of Karachi Sunday afternoon.

Authorities shut down petrol stations across the port city, fearing further damage after mobs set fire to cars.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has asked the provincial government to deal sternly with rioters, the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan said.

Gilani directed provincial authorities to take "strict action" against those who violate the law, saying "no one will be allowed to put at risk the lives and property of the people," the press agency said.

Political tensions between the ethnic Urdu-speaking MQM and Pashtuns from the North West Frontier Province who have settled in Karachi for jobs have been the source of past unrest.

Date created : 2008-11-30