Unrest in Pakistan after attack on cleric
16 killed in ethnic clashes in Karachi
KARACHI • Pakistan said it arrested several suspects involved in Tuesday’s murder attempt on a political leader in Karachi, an attack that sparked sectarian violence and killed 16 people in the nation’s commercial capital.
“I cannot disclose the number but we have made several arrests,” a government spokesperson in Sindh province said. He confirmed the death toll in Tuesday’s violence, adding the situation “is under control.”
Aurangzaib Farooqi, leader of the hard line Sunni Muslim organization Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, survived an attack by gunmen, prompting his party to demand a day of mourning, the Dawn newspaper reported.
Farooqi received a bullet wound to the thigh, while five of his guards and chauffeur were killed in the shootout. Ensuing violence across the city claimed the lives of 10 others.
People with bamboo shafts and some with pistols took to the streets after television channels reported the news of the attack. Armed men fanned across the city during which 10 people were killed, either in reaction or related to the attack, the newspaper said.
Businesses remained closed Wednesday in Karachi after Farooqi’s party called for the day of mourning. Trade unions said they will refrain from opening shops, while transportation representatives said they will keep off roads after two vehicles were set on fire by protesters.
Religious and ethnic clashes have claimed over 8,000 lives in Karachi since 2008, Geo television reported. The city, the largest in Pakistan with about 20 million residents, is home to Urdu-speaking migrants who settled there after the 1947 partition from India, and ethnic Pashtuns fleeing army operations against militants in the country’s north.
President Asif Ali Zardari is in the city to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the death of his wife, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in a gun and bomb attack on Dec. 27, 2007.