By Imran Ayub- Dawn
Ten persons, mostly with political backgrounds, were gunned down in Lyari and the adjoining localities on Thursday. The killings fuelled tension in the neighborhoods as frequent gunshots in the localities forced businesses to close and traffic to remain off the roads.
The killings also set alarm bells ringing in the ranks of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, who claimed six of the 10 persons killed on Thursday were its workers and sympathisers, as dozens of charged youths took the bodies of three victims to the Chief Minister’s House to stage a sit-in protest against a major coalition partner of the Sindh government.
Sporadic incidents of firing and killing broke out and continued till sunset when the Kalakot police in Lyari found the body of a 30-year-old activist of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement.
“The headless body was found on Adam Khan Road, with severe marks of torture,” said an official at the Kalakot police station. “The victim was later identified as Muhammad Aamir, alias Anda, who was reported missing by the family on Dec 22.”
As the body was taken to Civil Hospital Karachi for medico-legal formalities, the MQM leadership claimed the victim was a party worker.
“The same elements are involved in Amir’s murder the MQM had pointed out at its recent press conferences,” said Sindh health minister Dr Sagheer Ahmed, also a member of the MQM’s coordination committee, who visited the Civil Hospital to offer condolences to the victim’s family.
A few hours later, incidents of firing left six people, including a woman, dead. The victims were attacked and killed separately in Lyari and its adjoining areas. The situation turned more serious when two unknown gunmen riding a motorbike targeted 38-year-old councillor Nadir Shah near his home in Pak Colony, killing him on the spot.
Mr Shah was the close aide of Nisar Baloch, a social activist and an outspoken anti-encroachment campaigner, who was gunned down in the area in November 2009.
Earlier, outside a PPP office in Lyari two men riding a motorbike opened indiscriminate fire and killed two men on the spot while their third colleague died in the Civil Hospital Karachi. The PPP leaders said all the three persons – Usman, 21, Younus, 35, and Babu, 18 – were PPP activists.
Similarly, in the Garden, Usmanabad and Dhobi Ghaat areas incidents of firing claimed the lives of Nighat Rubab, 29, Faheem, 30, Shakir, 30, and Younus, 20. Though the police saw them as victims of indiscriminate firing, the PPP said they were killed because they were party ‘sympathisers’.
A 45-year-old activist of the MQM was killed in almost the same manner in Sector 11½ of Orangi Town. The victim, Muntazir Mustehsan Zaidi, associated with Unit 124 of the MQM’s Orangi Town sector, was targeted when he was sitting outside a fast-food shop.
A 60-year-old woman, who was wounded in firing in Dhobi Ghaat, died during treatment in the Civil Hospital Karachi.
“The victim, Razia Begum, received two bullets each in the legs and the abdomen,” said an official at hospital. “We have a total of nine wounded in the hospital.”
Earlier, dozens of PPP workers led by the party’s Sindh council member Habib Jan staged a sit-in before the CM House with the bodies of three victims – Usman, Younus and Babu – and demanded registration of cases against leaders of the provincial government’s coalition partner. They stayed there for about an hour.
The city police chief categorically denied killings as part of the frequent targeted killings, terming it more personal matters of the party workers.
“We have investigated the incidents and early investigation suggests that an activist or two were killed due to their personal matters,” said Capital City Police Officer Waseem Ahmed. “The other people were not actually targeted but were killed in indiscriminate firing by unknown people. However, if anyone nominates someone, we would definitely take action in line with the defined laws.”