At least 22 people were shot dead in pitched gunbattles that are evolving into a fight for control of Karachi city itself. But more than the actual killings was the fear that the firing spread, especially in Malir.
Additional Inspector General of Police Saud Mirza said the police was working in tandem with the Rangers and was trying its best to contain the violence from spreading to other parts of the city. “An operation against the armed groups in Malir and Landhi is expected some time later in the evening,” he said.
In many areas, however, it remained to be seen how the law enforcers would even manage to enter. The worst affected parts were Malir, Landhi, Jaffer Tayar Society and Daud Goth, among others. At least four rockets were fired in Daud Goth but no loss of life was reported.
Rangers spokesperson Major Farooq Bilal told The Express Tribune that the force was not conducting any major operation but their personnel have been deployed in sensitive areas and were holding flag marches. He said there were reports that hand grenades were used in some of the attacks. Rangers Brigadier Waseem said the armed groups were using sophisticated weapons, including machine guns, assault rifles such as the AK-47 and .222 rifles.
Armed men attacked the houses of MNA Sher Mohammad Baloch, ex-UC 7 Malir nazim Jan Mohammad and Rasheed Baloch. Six Muttahida Qaumi Movement workers, Raheel, Owais, Salahuddin, Ali Akbar, Mohammad Hussain and Irfan were gunned down in Taimuria, Kalakot and Quaidabad, respectively. An activist of the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, Noorul Islam, was killed and another man identified as Nazeer was injured in an armed attack inside Siddiq-e-Akbar Mosque in Surjani. A Mohajir Qaumi Movement-Haqiqi spokesperson said, however, that none of their people were injured or killed on Sunday.
Eleven more people, including Ikhlaq, Khalid and Kala Khan in Karimabad, Zafar, Furqan and Iqbal in Sir Syed and one each in Nabi Bux, Ghas Mandi, Liaquatabad, Baldia Town and Mobina Town were killed, while over half a dozen others were wounded. MQM activist Badar Afzal, who was injured in Malir on Friday, succumbed at Jinnah hospital.
Apart from Malir, fear and tension swept across Mawach Goth, Quaid-e-Azam Colony, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Qasba Colony, Banaras, Orangi Town, Katti Pahari. Life came to a standstill in Kharadar, Napier, Ancholi, Abbas Town where intense aerial firing was reported. A funeral procession for advocate Mukhtiar Bukhari was attacked on the Super Highway. As this unfolded, Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik arrived and chaired a meeting at Governor House. Speaking to the media at the airport earlier on, he said that no operation would be conducted in the city without consulting all mainstream political parties.
Police sources told The Express Tribune that the violence in Landhi is basically a turf war between a breakaway faction of one political party and another.
The MQM’s Wasay Jalil said the party has already tabled a deweaponisation bill in parliament and wants the authorities do something concrete. The chief minister’s adviser, Waqar Mehdi, said that six people were arrested in Baldia and the law enforcement authorities have entered Malir.
An Awami National Party spokesperson said that a huge rally was organised in Landhi to promote peace in the area, but they were fired upon. The intense firing has forced people to stay indoors. “The innocent people who are dying in this wave of violence is the responsibility of [...] parties,” he said.