Dec. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Pakistan said it arrested several suspects involved in yesterday’s murder attempt on a political leader in Karachi, an attack that sparked sectarian violence and killed 16 people in the nation’s commercial capital.
“I cannot disclose the number but we have made several arrests,” Sharfuddin Memon, adviser to the government of Sindh for home affairs, said in a telephone interview. He confirmed the death toll in yesterday’s violence, adding the situation “is under control.”
Aurangzaib Farooqi, leader of the hardline Sunni Muslim organization Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, survived an attack yesterday by gunmen, prompting his party to demand a day of mourning, the Dawn newspaper reported. Farooqi received a bullet wound to the thigh, while five of his guards and chauffer were killed in the shootout. Ensuing violence across the city claimed the lives of 10 others.
People with bamboo shafts and some with pistols took to the streets after television channels reported the news of the attack. Armed men fanned across the city during which 10 people were killed, either in reaction or related to the attack, the daily said.
Businesses remained closed today in Karachi after Farooqi’s party called for the day of mourning. Trade unions said they will refrain from opening shops, while transportation representatives said they will keep off roads after two of their vehicles were set on fire by protesters.
Religious and ethnic clashes have claimed over 8,000 lives in Karachi since 2008, Geo television reported last week. The city, the largest in Pakistan with about 20 million residents, is home to Urdu-speaking migrants who settled there after the 1947 partition from India, and ethnic Pashtuns fleeing army operations against militants in the country’s north.
President Asif Ali Zardari is in the city to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the death of his wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in a gun and bomb attack on Dec. 27, 2007.
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