KARACHI: At least 12 people have been killed and 29 injured in violence that erupted after unidentified gunmen opened fire on a rally organised by the Awami Tehreek and banned Peoples Amn Committee (PAC) in Karachi on Tuesday.
The protestors were rallying against the proposed Mohajir province and operation in Lyari.
Soon after the attack, the protest turned violent and dozens of cars and motorbikes were torched. The violence, which erupted in the Napier Road area, spread to the nearby localities including Lyari.
Police personnel deployed to maintain security failed to control the situation, however, after Rangers arrived, violence was brought under control.
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has taken notice of the violence and has sought a report from the Sindh government.
Meanwhile Express News reported that Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that Awami Tehreek and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, PAC, Punjabi-Pakhtun Ittehad (PPI), KCI had participated in the rally, but they had not sought prior permission from the government. A Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has been formed to investigate into the matter.
Later, while commenting on Twitter, Malik said he had proposed to Chief Minister Sindh for an inquiry into the incident through a judge of the Sindh High Court. The Court should then ascribe responsibility for a probe.
The interior minister, further tweeted late Tuesday night, posing questions to the parties involved in the rally, asking why Ayub Awan, Ayaz Latif Palijo and particularly PML-N’s Marvi Memon led 2000 people into sensitive areas including Lyari and Kharadar.
Malik blamed PML-N for the deaths, caused due to the violence.
He also shrugged off any responsibility for the episode of violence, saying that it was the responsibility of the local police, Home Secretary Sindh and Chief Minister Sindh, adding that he is only responsible for providing logistical support and forces.
The Awami Tehreek has announced to observe a day of mourning on Wednesday.
While speaking to Express News, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Wasay Jalil expressed sorrow over the incident and called it a planned activity.
Due to today's violence, Board of Intermediate Education in Karachi and Hyderabad have postponed exams scheduled to be held on Wednesday. The exams will now be held on May 30 in Karachi and May 26 in Hyderabad.
End of live updates
Awami Tehreek has announced to observe a day of mourning across Sindh tomorrow (Wednesday).
Incidents of firing were reported in the Nishter Road area and a car was also torched in the locality.
DIG South Shaukat Shah said a search operation in the affected areas is underway.
Additional IG Sindh Police Akhtar Gorchani said that once the situation is brought completely under control, the incident will be investigated.
Police and Rangers have controlled violence at the Napier Road and in areas around it.
However, firing incidents have been reported in Lyari.
According to Express News correspondent Waqeel Rao, around two dozens of cars have been torched by unknown men.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Wasay Jalil expressed sorrow over the incident and called it a planned activity. He further claimed that the rally “had caused the violence”
Jalil asked the Sindh government to restore peace in the city and investigate the incident.
Awami Tehreek President Ayaz Palijo, in a press conference, said that the police left the areas as soon as firing began and the PPP "stood there, watching Sindhis being killed".
"I thank PML-N and Jamaat-e-Islami who supported us in the protest," he added.
He further warned that every drop of blood that was shed in today's riots will be avenged, "not from innocent Urdu-speaking people, but from terrorists".
Palijo also said that he had received text messages last night from a certain party which threatened of repeating the May 12 scenario today during the protest.
According to Express News correspondent Wasiq Muhammad, around 80% of the trapped people in areas near Napier Road have been rescued.
A cameraman and a reporter of a private TV channel were injured during the ongoing violence.
Rangers have partially controlled the situation in the Lea market area.
Injured are being taken to hospitals on motorcycles, in rickshaws and private cars.
Ambulances are unable to reach the affected areas due to massive traffic jam.
Most of the injured admitted in the Civil hospital are in critical condition.
Rangers sources said that targeted operations will be conducted in the affected area
Firing incidents reported in various areas of the city.
Rangers have rescued around 20 shop-keepers trapped in the area between Denso Hall and Lea market.
Employees of different banks located at the Napier Road are still trapped inside their offices.
Firing incidents reported in the Lea market area. Four hand grenades were also thrown near the Baghdadi Police Station in Lyari.
Rangers have been called in to control the situation. Rangers arrested three suspects, recovered TT pistols from them.
Six shops, eight cars and nine motorcycles have been torched so far.
After the attack, the protest turned violent and five cars and few motorbikes were burned down. Police present in the area have failed to control the situation.
The injured have been shifted to a local hospital.
Shops in the area were shut down after few shops were set on fire. The fire brigades, which were initially prevented from entering the affected area, have now managed to control the fire.
Business activities have come to a halt in the area.
Among others, Awami Tehreek’s Ayaz Latif Palijo, Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) leader Marvi Memon and Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz leader Qamar Bhatti participated in the rally.
The Awami Tehreek and PAC jointly organised the rally which began in Lyari will end at the Karachi Press Club.
According to sources, containers were set up to stop the rally at Shaheen Complex. Authorities said the rally will not be allowed entry into the red zone.
Earlier, Awami Tehreek’s Anwar Soomro invited ANP’s provincial chief to participate in the rally.
He said that his party had also invited Jamaat-e-Islami, Tehreek-e-Insaf, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Sindh United Party, Sindh Taraqi Pasand Party, Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz, Sindh National Party, Sindh National Movement to join them.