Friday, July 8, 2011

Pakistan security to shoot on sight in Karachi

Security forces were ordered to shoot gunmen on sight Friday in Pakistan's largest city, as four days of violence left at least 71 people dead and prompted political leaders to call for a day of mourning that shut businesses and kept public traffic off the roads.

This week's violent spate in Karachi was among the worst this year for a city that has long been a hotbed of ethnic, sectarian and political tensions. It came just days after the city's most powerful political party, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, said it was leaving the federal ruling coalition to join the opposition.

Such political shifts involving the MQM have historically been accompanied by violence in Karachi, though it and other parties active in the city deny stirring the tensions.

At least 34 people died on Thursday alone, when gunmen strafed buses and went on shooting sprees in several neighborhoods.

The order to shoot suspects on sight reflected the authorities' desperation to bring the spiraling violence under control.

Sharjeel Memon, the Sindh province information minister, said the order was aimed at "any armed miscreant" encountered by police, Rangers and other security troops.


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