Karachi Streets, Offices Empty After Political Violence Kills 5

Factories, markets and offices were deserted in Pakistan’s financial capital of Karachi after five people were gunned down in political violence yesterday and public buses were set ablaze by armed men across the city.

“Armed gangs on motorcycles emerged on the city’s roads following the killing of a local politician,” Saud Mirza, the city police chief, said by phone today. “They attacked 27 buses and over 100 people were detained by police.”

Karachi, which is home to 18 million people and contributes 70 percent of the nation’s tax revenue, has been the scene of frequent gun battles resulting in the killing of members of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, a former coalition partner, and the Awami National Party. The killing of the MQM’s Farooq Baig sparked yesterday’s violence.

Since January, 150 people have been shot dead in political fighting in the city, according to Sharfuddin Memon, an adviser on security to the provincial government of Sindh, of which Karachi is the capital.

The benchmark Karachi Stock Exchange 100 index fell 0.2 percent to 12,011.56 at 10:30 a.m. local time and recorded a volume of 6.7 million shares. The average daily volume since Jan. 1 has been 83.5 million shares, according to Bloomberg data.

“Production will be affected today since the security situation has kept attendance low in factories,” said Saeed Shafiq, president of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry. As much as 4 billion rupees ($47 million) in factory revenues will be lost, he said.

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