13 dead as violence escalates in Karachi ahead of Muharram

KARACHI, Nov 5: At least eight persons died in sectarian violence today in Pakistan’s biggest city, taking the number of people killed in two days to 13 as tensions spiked ahead of the Muslim holy month of Muharram.

The dead included at least five Shias, two clerics and a councillor of the PML-N, police said.

Two Shia doctors were shot dead yesterday in different parts of Karachi. Three Shias were killed in New Karachi when gunmen barged into a tailor’s shop and opened fire. Three others were injured in the incident.

Police said the incidents of targeted killings have intensified since then. Three people were gunned down in the Defence Housing Authority area last night.

“Nawaz, a local councillor, was shot dead in his car by unknown persons at Defence round-around while in the same area two clerics, Mufti Muhammad Tariq Shah and his friend, were gunned down in phase one,” Police official Imran Shaukat said.

Two persons were killed in a gunfire at a hotel near Chamra Chowrangi in Karachi’s Korangi Industrial Area. A unidentified body was found in Ali Mohammad neighbourhood of Karachi’s Lyari area.

Police also found throat-slit bodies of a couple inside a water tank of a house located near Qatar Mor area of Orangi Town area, while another body bearing torture marks was found in Ittehad town in Baldia.

Three other persons were also killed yesterday in separate incidents.

The wave of violence comes ahead of the Muslim holy month of Muharram which begins tomorrow with Shia Muslims observing Ashura or the tenth day of the month next Friday.

Meanwhile, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani flew down to Karachi yesterday for a detailed briefing on the operations currently underway to flush out criminal and militant elements from the city.

In the past few months there has been a rise in the killings of Shia doctors and on October 10, doctors from the minority community held demonstrations to highlight the rise in violence against them.

Shias make up around a fifth of Pakistan’s predominantly Sunni Muslim population.

Karachi, the financial hub of Pakistan, is riddled with targeted killings, gang wars, kidnappings, extortion and terrorism. (AGENCIES)