MQM leader among five killed in Karachi

Karachi: An MQM leader and his brother were shot dead by unidentified gunmen here today, triggering political violence in which three persons were killed and dozens of vehicles torched in the Pakistani port city.

The gunmen entered the home of Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader Mansoor Mukhtar at PIB Colony this morning and gunned him down. Mukhtar`s brother succumbed to his injuries in hospital while his sister-in-law too was injured, MQM officials said.

On hearing of Mukhtar`s killing, a large number of MQM workers gathered outside the hospital where his body was taken. They set on fire a police van and damaged two more vehicles before police dispersed them by firing in the air.

Sporadic incidents of violence were reported from various areas of Karachi, including Malir, Landhi and Nazimabad. TV news channels reported that three persons were killed in firing at Manzoor Colony, Surjani Town and Korangi areas. The NGO Edhi Foundation, which runs a private rescue service, said at least three persons were injured in incidents of firing.

Nearly three dozen vehicles, including police vans and buses, were torched across the city. Footage on television showed several buses and private vehicles burning on the streets of Karachi. Following the violent protests, public transport went off the streets and shops and markets closed down at several places.

The Karachi University cancelled all examinations scheduled for today. There were also reports of firing and violence from other cities of Sindh province, including Hyderabad, Nawabshah and Sukkur.

Senior MQM leader Sagheer Ahmed blamed Mansoor Mukhtar`s killing on the Aman Committee, a group that is reportedly linked to leaders of the Pakistan People`s Party. No group claimed responsibility for the killing.

MQM chief Altaf Hussain, who lives in self-exile in London, appealed to his supporters to remain calm. The party also appealed to the President, Prime Minister and government of Sindh province, of which Karachi is the capital, to take action to stop the killing of its workers.

Local residents said paramilitary forces and police were unable to check the violence. Fire fighters could not reach the sites of blaze as they feared attacks. Pakistan`s main financial hub has been rocked by ethnic and political violence several times in the past few years. Hundreds of people have died in the violence.