KARACHI: Unidentified gunmen have shot dead at least 17 people in a new wave of violence in Pakistan’s commercial hub Karachi, police said on Saturday.“At least 17 people have died in the past three days by firing by unknown gunmen in several parts of Karachi,” city police chief Fayyaz Leghari told Reuters. A local television journalist was among the dead.
Karachi has a long history of ethnic, religious and sectarian violence. But hundreds of targeted killings last year have raised concerns that violence could escalate and create a new crisis for the US-backed government in Islamabad.
Analysts and security officials blame much of the violence on the rivalry between the two main parties, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, and the Awami National Party, both part of the ruling coalition in Islamabad.
Bad blood between the MQM, which represents the interests of majority Urdu-speaking mohajirs, and the ANP, linked to the growing Pashtun minority, goes back years. Retaliatory killings of party members is partly fueled by ethnic tension. Besides trying to contain violence in Karachi, the government faces a Taleban insurgency and the task of rebuilding areas devastated by August floods which inflicted $9.7 billion in damage and will strain the weak economy for years to come.
Stock market investors keep a wary eye on tensions in Karachi, home to Pakistan’s main port, stock exchange and central bank and the main gateway for Western military supplies bound for neighboring landlocked Afghanistan.
Input from Agencies