30 killed in Karachi after MQM lawmaker’s killing

By Awais Saleem, IANS
Tuesday, August 3, 2010

ISLAMABAD - The murder of MQM leader Raza Haider, a member of the Sindh provincial assembly, in Pakistan’s financial hub Karachi, sparked riots that left 30 people dead and nearly five dozen wounded.

Haider was killed Monday by unknown assailants in Nazimabad area where he had gone to attend a funeral.

Raza, 51, was a member of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), which has a political stronghold in Karachi. He was elected to the provincial assembly for the first time in 2008 general elections.

According to Shiraz Ali, medico legal Officer of Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, Raza received six bullets, including two in his head.

Riots broke out immediately after the murder in Karachi, Hyderabad and other cities of Sindh.

Police put the toll at 30, Pak Tribune reported.

According to police surgeon Hamid Priyar, 30 people were killed in the spate of targeted killings that went on till late Monday. They had received 11 bodies at Civil Hospital Karachi, 11 at Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre, five at Abbasi Shaheed and two at Qatar Hospital in Orangi town.

More than 60 people were injured in the violence.

The mob torched dozens of vehicles on fire, including private cars and public transport. Several petrol pumps were set on fire and the roads presented a deserted look.

Markets closed down immediately after the incident and people started rushing to the safety of their homes, creating massive traffic jams across the city.

Police and rangers have taken control of Karachi and other restive areas and the general public has been appealed to remain confined to their homes.

MQM chief Altaf Hussain, in a message from the London secretariat, condemned the incident and termed it a great loss for the party.

MQM leaders Faisal Sabzwari and Wasim Aftab, talking to media, said that Raza was receiving threats for some time and alleged that Awami National Party (ANP) was involved in the killing.

The Sindh president of ANP, Shahi Syed, however, dismissed the allegations and said that they were together with MQM in this hour of grief.

He termed this incident a conspiracy against the country. Both parties have traded allegations earlier as well and have been involved in a fierce political tangle that has regularly been turning violent over the years.

Sindh Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza has directed the Sindh inspector general of police to investigate the killing.

A committee headed by DIG West Sultan Khwaja has been set up to probe the murder.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik has claimed to track down the culprits soon.

Target killings have claimed more than 1,500 lives in the provincial metropolis in the last two years.

There was widespread condemnation of the killing of Raza Haider from all political parties and mainstream leaders. Karachi transport alliance has announced that there would be no public transport Tuesday, while all educational institutions will remain closed.

MQM has announced three days of peaceful mourning.

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