KARACHI: Armed conflict between two rival groups in Lyari left 15 dead while dozens of others suffered injuries, Express News reported on Wednesday.
The Jhat Pat Market of Lyari became a battleground as the two groups – Baba Ladla and Uzair Baloch gangs – attacked each other with hand grenades, rockets and guns.
“The clash erupted this morning when two gangs exchanged heavy gunfire, later they fired RPGs and lobbed hand grenades at each other,” Senior police official Faisal Bashir told AFP.
He added that there were 15 schoolchildren among the injured.
Bashir said the violence had erupted after one of the gangs had kidnapped a member of the other gang the night before.
He further said one of the gangs suspected the other of providing a tip to police that led to the killing of a top leader.
Sporadic gunfire could still be heard from the scene, according to an AFP reporter. Police were preventing journalists from entering the area.
Dr Purshotum Das, a senior official at the Civil Hospital Karachi confirmed the attack.
Major Sibtain Rizvi, a spokesman for paramilitary troops, added that two gangsters had been killed and one had been arrested.
Dr Seemi Jamali of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, where some of the injured were taken, said three paramilitary rangers and two police were wounded.
According to police, the firing began around 4:00 am while major blasts were heard at noon.
Din Muhammad, a 43-year-old resident who was being treated at Karachi Civil Hospital for a gun-shot wound in his right leg, said he was sitting at the shop when he heard explosions.
“There was a big bang and then people were shouting and crying, I closed the shutter of my shop to run home but I saw people fallen into the ground, bleeding and screaming,” he said.
“I was running towards a group of people lying on the ground a few yards away and then I fell to the ground,” after being shot, he added.
“My leg was bleeding and I could not stand up, I remained there for around twenty minutes and then local people came and brought us here,” he said.
An AFP reporter at the hospital said that some people, who were accompanying the wounded, started chanting slogans against security forces before briefly clashing with them.
By Wednesday afternoon, some 200 police commandos had arrived on the scene to conduct a search operation after the clash had ended, senior police official Shah Nawaz told AFP.
Earlier today, DC South had said that a joint search operation by the police and Rangers has started, adding that the situation will be brought in control soon.
Emergency was declared in the Civil Hospital as injured were taken there for medical assistance. The deceased include four women and two children, however, none of the victims have been identified as yet.
Shops and businesses shut down in Lyari and residents of the area protested against the clash and burnt tyres.
Today, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan presented a report on the conditions in Lyari to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, to inform him about the tense situation in the area.
Lyari gang war
The differences between Uzair and Baba began over the issue of Uzair’s escape from Lyari, according to a source who is close to both of them.
“Baba directed Uzair not to leave his men as the entire neighbourhood considered him to be the sardar [leader]. But Uzair left without taking Baba into confidence,” the source had said.
Insiders had said Baba suffered setbacks when a large number of his operational commanders were killed. “Uzair Baloch in comparison did not lose as many men. Some of Baba’s commanders even joined his rival’s group, which came as a shock to say the least,” an insider had said.
Eight gangsters were killed in three joint operations conducted by the police and Rangers, DIG South Khalid Shaikh said. The operations were conducted in the Rangiwara area of Lyari. All gangsters were belonged the Baba Ladla and Uzair Baloch gangs.