KARACHI: At least 16 people, including eight women and three minor girls among them, were killed and more than 40 others injured in clashes between two rival gangs in Karachi’s restive Lyari area on Wednesday.
Miscreants hurled hand grenades in Lyari’s Jhat Pat market, Nawa Lane, Gul Muhammad Lane and Chakiwara where people were busy in shopping. Eight to 10 Awan rockets and hand grenades were hurled by unknown persons. The nose of the gun shots was also heard in the area after the hand grenade and rocket attacks.
“The clash erupted on Wednesday morning when two gangs exchanged heavy gunfire, later they fired RPGs and lobbed hand grenades at each other,” a senior police official spoke to a private TV channel. Medics said the death toll may rise as 15 to 20 injured were critical.
Officials said the firing and grenade attacks were result of clashes between two rival gangs of Lyari, a hub of criminal activities and gangsters. Sheraz Zakri, brother of a gang war member Commander Ghaffar Zakri, was killed in the area in exchange of fire with Rangers on Tuesday night.
Police said the grenade attacks took place in different areas of Lyari, including Bazinjo Chowk, Gul Muhammad Lane and Jhat Pat market where intermittent firing was continuing since Tuesday night, causing severe fright and panic among the residents compelling them to stay indoors.
Senior police official Faisal Bashir media that the violence had erupted after one of the gangs had kidnapped a member of the other gang the night before.
“The clash erupted this morning when two gangs exchanged heavy gunfire. Later they fired RPGs and lobbed hand grenades at each other,” Bashir said. He added that 39 people, including 15 schoolchildren, were injured.
Continuous firing and hand grenade blasts are occurring in Jhat Pat Market and Chakiwara area
Dr Purshotum Das, a senior official at the Civil Hospital Karachi confirmed the attack and said: “We have received 12 dead bodies.”
The victims were shifted to the Lyari General Hospital and Civil hospital.
The shops and business shut down in the area as people were left confined to their homes.
Major Siptain 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.
Bashir, the police official, said the violence in Lyari erupted after one of the gangs kidnapped a member of the other gang on Tuesday night.
Local police said the fight was believed to involve two splinter gangs — the “Uzair Baloch” and “Ghaffar Zikri” groups — which grew out of the once-dominant Baba Ladla group.
Meanwhile, a full-scale operation is likely to be launched following the bloody gun battle. Heavy contingents of police and rangers personnel have been deployed in the area while interior minister has also discussed the law and order situation with PM Nawaz.
According to officials, PM Nawaz will visit Karachi during the current week. Lyari, one of the poorest and most violent neighbourhoods of Karachi, is known for clashes between rival gangs linked to political and ethnic groups.