KARACHI, July 11: Just a day after the strife-hit areas of Orangi Town returned to normality, violence broke out early Monday morning in Lyari and its adjoining areas leaving at least seven people dead and around half a dozen others wounded.
Tension between rival groups — Kutchhi Rabita Committee and Lyari Amn Committee — heightened amid fears of an attack on Lyari from the Kharadar direction that resulted in armed men taking up positions and a subsequent exchange of gunfire, police said.
Intense firing caused closure of Jodia Bazaar, Kharadar and Shershah markets and compelled resident to stay indoors.
Later during the day, the KRC staged a sit-in on Mauripur road to protest against what they described as the “gangsterism of the Amn Committee”.
The home minister, Manzoor Wassan, visited the demonstrators and requested them to end their protest, but returned when the protesters said that similar assurances had been given in the past. On Monday night, shortly after the KRC representatives agreed to end their sit-in at a meeting with the interior minister at the CM House, heavy firing resumed in Khadda Market and Nayaabad areas of Lyari.
The Lyari SP said that tension between the KRC and Amn Committee heightened because of certain fears that there would be some sort of attack on Lyari from the Kharadar direction. “Attack or no attack, innocent people get killed whenever they fought pitched gun battles,” he observed.
SP Pervaiz Iqbal Bhatti said that tension broke out when Amn Committee activists attempted to take up positions on rooftops.
As the two groups flexed their muscles, at least three bodies were found in different parts of Lyari.
A young man was killed and another wounded when intense firing was carried out at the Khadda Market area, police said.
They added that the deceased was later identified as Shabbir, son of Aziz. He was a resident of Moosalane, the police said. Shahnawaz was wounded in the firing, they added.
Area people said firing was so intense that both the victims could not be taken to hospital for a considerable time.
Earlier, the body of a young man was found stuffed in a gunny bag near KMC workshop.
Officials said that the body of Abdul Sattar, 40, bore gunshot wounds and torture marks. The victim was a resident of Sangulane.
The police shifted the body to the civil hospital for a post-mortem examination.
An FIR of the murder was yet to be registered at the Eidgah police station till Monday night.
Another body was found stuffed in a gunny bag from the milk market within the remit of the Kharadar police station.
“The victim was in his mid-30s,” said a duty officer of the Kharadar police station. He said the police shifted the body that bore torture marks to the civil hospital for medico-legal formalities. The body was later shifted to the Edhi morgue for want of identification.
In Hasan Auliya Village, a young man, Mohammad Hasan, was killed shortly after he left home to buy some milk, an official of the Pak Colony police station quoted the victim`s brother as saying. The official said it was not yet clear if the attackers were riding a motorcycle or were on foot.
An FIR (155/2011) under Sections 302 (premeditated murder) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code was registered on a complaint of the victim`s brother, Yousaf, at the Pak Colony police station.
Two pedestrians, Bayrukh Khan and Zubaida Bibi, who were wounded in separate incidents of firing in Khadda Market, succumbed to their wounds at the Civil Hospital during treatment.
In trans-Lyari area of Agra Taj Colony, a young man, Zubair, suffered a gunshot wound, police said.
The victim, a resident of Bihar Colony, was rushed to the Civil Hospital where he was pronounced dead, they said.
Speaking to , Karim Bhai of the KRC said: “Armed men belonging to the Amn Committee started taking up positions on rooftops overlooking the Kharadar area in the early hours of Monday, claiming that activists of the Muttahida would try to make an entry into Lyari.
“We told them if they made such a move, they would not succeed as Lyari is PPP`s stronghold, but they were not ready to listen,” he added.
Lyari Amn Committee spokesman Zafar Baloch, however, told that a non-issue had been blown out of all proportion.
He said that there was no violence in Lyari. Only the surrounding areas of Lyari like Kharadar were affected by firing, he said.
“We had received reports late Sunday night that Muttahida activists would carry out an attack on Lyari,” Mr Baloch added.
Meanwhile, a large number of KRC activists, including women and children, staged a protest rally in front of the Karachi Press Club. They alleged that members of Lyari gang war attacked Khadda market area in the same way they attacked the Ali Mohammad Mohalla and whisked away their activists to an unknown place.
A protester said: “We are being threatened to vacate the area, or be ready to face serious consequences”. He alleged that they had made the Baloch community hostage not only in Lyari but also in other Baloch settlements in the city.
“Lyari is an old city area where people of different nationalities have been living in peace and harmony for years, but for some time notorious elements of extortion racket are working against peace,” said Interior Minister Rehman Malik.
He was speaking to an eight-member delegation of the Kutchhi Rabita Committee that called on him at the Chief Minister`s House, according to a handout issued from the CM`s House.
The delegation apprised the interior minister of the Lyari situation and incidents of firing that had taken place since Monday morning.
The minister stressed that no one would be allowed to destroy the peace and government would sternly deal with such elements.
He also advised the PPP legislators and party leaders to use their influence to restore normality in Lyari. The delegation assured the interior minister that they would end their protest and remove the barricades from the roads, the handout said.