Fighting Between Rival Political Parties Leaves 14 Dead, 45 Wounded
KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) _ Police arrested 30 people from rival political parties early today following an overnight shooting spree that left 14 people dead and 45 wounded, police said.
Police said four people were arrested after a car chase through the city. The four belonged to Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party and included the president of its student wing, police said.
Another 11 members of the governing party and 15 members of a rival Indian immigrant party, the Mohajir Qami Movement, were arrested in a series of raids, police said.
They said officers also seized several automatic rifles and ammunition from both groups.
A member of the Indian movement’s student branch was gunned down Thursday outside his college room, heightening political tensions on university campuses, some of which have become armed camps.
The authorities ordered all colleges closed indefinitely beginning today.
Gunmen on motorbikes began racing through Karachi’s central district after sunset Friday, firing randomly at bystanders, police said. The shooting continued until sunrise, they said.
Karachi, once a peaceful, affluent city of 8 million, has become a battleground, with political parties and rival ethnic groups fighting pitched battles in alleyways. Kidnappings and torture are commonplace.
Ms. Bhutto’s left-of-center party and the right-wing Mohajir Qami Movement are the main combatants in the political battle.
The Indian movement once was an ally of Ms. Bhutto, but it withdrew its support in November when it committed its 14 National Assembly seats to her opposition.
The opposition then called a no-confidence vote, which she narrowly survived.
Ms. Bhutto’s party rules the 237-seat National Assembly and dominates the Sindh provincial assembly.
More than 60 people have been gunned down in the last month in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city and capital of Sindh province, according to police and relief organizations.