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Taliban behind Karachi violence: Malik

Karachi: Pakistan`s Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Saturday blamed Taliban for the wave of violence that has hit the country`s financial hub for the past five days, claiming at least 108 lives, as gunfire continued to rattle the port city.

Citing intelligence reports, Malik said that the Taliban was at least partially responsible for the violence that has left the people living in fear and tension.

"The [Taliban] had evacuated some places during the security forces` operation against them, but police and law enforcement agencies are pursuing them," claimed the minister, stating that there was a network of the Taliban that was active in the northern part of Karachi and involved in acts of militancy across the country`s largest city.

His remarks came as the authorities announced that parts of the city had been taken back after being in occupation of armed groups.

Malik said police and rangers had cleared the Kati Pahari hills in Orangi town, the epicenter of the violence, from where armed men indiscriminately fired and even launched rockets on residential areas in Qasba colony.

The intensity of the violence declined today although seven more people were killed in different areas of the city, taking the toll of dead to around 108 and of those injured to 250, police said.

They said hundreds of people stranded by days of violence have been rescued by paramilitary forces.

Thousands of people have been stuck in the violence- hit areas of the city as groups of heavily-armed people traded fire rockets at each other, paralysing the country`s financial capital.

"We are moving the families to safe places and the exercise continues. Rangers troops helped mainly people in Qasba Colony and adjoining areas," a paramilitary Rangers spokesman said.

Paramilitary Rangers took positions late last night in the most affected areas — Orangai town, Qasba Colony and Kati Pahari and started "targeted actions".

Residents in Qasba colony said they had spent the last five days in hell.

"For four days we were at the mercy of these terrorists it was like hell and we haven`t slept for nights," a resident said.

The city police officer Saud Mirza told The Express Tribune said that as many as 1,000 policemen from other parts of Sindh had also been called in to help control the law and order situation in the city.

The Rangers` jurisdiction had been extended to the affected areas of the city and more than 100 people have been arrested, a spokesman said.

Main markets and patrol stations, which had been closed yesterday, opened today as life returned to normalcy.

But, Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry President Saeed Shafique warned that traders and industrialists will go on an indefinite strike if the government does not control the situation in the city.

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