Security stepped up in Karachi as death toll hits 58

Govt offering Rs10m for citizens who provide information leading to arrests of those responsible for the violence.

Afp August 03, 2011

KARACHI: The government has deployed hundreds of extra paramilitary troops in Karachi, struggling to end violence that has killed 58 people in five days, officials said Wednesday.

Authorities are battling to put a halt to gunfights raging across the city, where political, ethnic and criminal rivalries left more than 200 people dead last month.

The provincial government is offering Rs10 million for citizens who provide information leading to the arrests of those responsible for the violence, at its worst since 1995.

"Hundreds of paramilitary soldiers and policemen deployed in the city's troubled western neighbourhoods last night," local government official Sharfuddin Memon told AFP.

"House-to-house searches are going on and some suspects have been detained."

(Read: How the police is failing the people of Karachi)

The death toll on Wednesday reached 58, after at least 35 people were killed in the space of 24 hours and provincial health official Hamid Parhiar said at least four bullet-riddled bodies were brought to the hospital.

Inspector General (IG) of Police Sindh Wajid Durrani said police had made 24 arrests and some officials said calm had been restored.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain warned people overnight to stockpile food for a month as the law and order situation worsens.

"We are running out of patience. For how long will we collect the bodies of innocent people?" said Hussain in a written statement to party workers before a party meeting, due to be conducted by telephone on Wednesday.

Government officials and coalition party members have distributed stickers, pamphlets and placards pleading for peace, but to little effect.

The independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan recently described Karachi as a city in the grip of political, ethnic and sectarian "polarisation".

It said 490 people were killed in targeted killings in Karachi in the first half of the year, compared with 748 in the whole of 2010.

(Read: Violence continues in Karachi; 200 killed in July)