Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Karachi is burning again

45 die in revenge attacks in Pakistan's Karachi
By ASHRAF KHAN (AP) – August 3, 2010

KARACHI, Pakistan — Gunmen killed at least 45 people in Pakistan's largest city after the assassination of a prominent lawmaker set off a cycle of revenge attacks, officials said Tuesday. Dozens of vehicles and shops were set ablaze as security forces struggled to regain control of Karachi.
Schools were closed and most business ground to a halt Tuesday in the southern city of more than 16 million, Pakistan's main commercial hub. While a thriving trading center, Karachi has a history of political, ethnic and religious violence and has long been a hide-out for al-Qaida and Taliban militants.

The latest unrest came after Raza Haider, a provincial lawmaker, was shot dead along with his bodyguard in a mosque while preparing to offer prayers Monday in Nazimabad area.

Haider was a member of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, the political party that runs the city and represents mainly descendants of Urdu-speaking migrants from India who settled in Pakistan when it was created in 1947.
The MQM's main rival is the Awami National Party, a secular nationalist party whose main power center is Pakistan's northwest and whose base is the ethnic Pashtun community living in Karachi.

Within hours of Haider's assassination, gangs torched buildings in Karachi and gunfire erupted in several parts of the city. Many of the dead were killed in targeted, execution-style attacks, authorities said. An investigation had been ordered into who was behind the attacks.

Independent analysts say followers of all political parties in Karachi are heavily involved in criminal activities such as protection rackets and illegal land dealings. In certain neighborhoods, armed men linked to political parties stand guard at checkpoints.

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Karachi burns in wave of violence - Dawn
45 killed in street violence after Karachi official is assassinated - Los Angeles Times

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