47 killed, over 120 injured in Karachi riots (Third lead)

August 3rd, 2010 - 11:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban By Awais Saleem
Islamabad, Aug 3 (IANS) Forty-seven people have been killed and more than 120 injured in riots that broke out in Karachi following the murder of a provincial legislator, police said.

Muttahid Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader and member of the Sindh provincial assembly Raza Haider was shot dead Monday afternoon in the Nazimabad area where he had gone to attend a funeral.

As the news spread, there was an immediate outbreak of violence. Mobs torched more than 40 vehicles, including commuter buses, and set several shops and fuel stations on fire. Firing and violence were also reported from Hyderabad, Mirpur Khas and other areas of Sindh.

Police surgeon Hamid confirmed the arrival of more than 120 injured people at various hospitals. MQM chief Altaf Hussain, who is based in London, and leaders of various parties have condemned Raza’s killing and urged restraint by political workers at this crucial juncture.

More than 80 people were picked up by the law enforcement agencies from restive areas on various charges in a bid to clamp down on the violence. The paramilitary Rangers claimed to have arrested 33 people who were involved in arson and firing incidents and recovered large quantities of arms and ammunition from them.

A police spokesman said that 20 activists of a banned outfit were arrested and were being interrogated. He claimed that another 30 people were arrested from the troubled areas on charges of creating a law and order problem.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said banned outfits like the Sipah-i-Sahaba and Tehreek-i-Taliban were involved in Haider’s killing and termed it a conspiracy to divide the people of Karachi.

Dunya TV reported that the security agencies had known for more than a year that Haider and two other MQM leaders were on the hit list of terrorists.

Earlier, Raza’s body was laid to rest in the MQM’s Shuhada (martyrs) graveyard in the presence of thousands of mourners. Raza, 51, was elected to the provincial assembly for the first time in 2008.

Addressing a press conference Tuesday evening, MQM leader Anees Qaimkhani demanded a high-level inquiry into Raza’s brutal killing and questioned the federal and provincial governments on their inability to act swiftly despite having prior information about such threats.

The MQM said the Awami National Party was involved in the killing. The ANP’s Sindh president, Shahi Syed, vehemently denied the allegation and demanded a thorough investigation to track down the forces behind the murder.

(Awais Saleem can be contacted at great_wall165@yahoo.co.uk)

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