A large number of gunmen fired indiscriminately Friday on crowds in and near the southern Pakistani city of Hyderabad, killing at least 60 people and wounding 150, doctors and witnesses said.
The motive for the attacks was not immediately clear. The government ordered an indefinite curfew in Hyderabad and the suburb of Latifabad, Pakistan’s official APP news agency said.
The unidentified assailants, armed with submachine guns and assault rifles, drove around Hyderabad and Latifabad, about 90 miles northeast of the southern port of Karachi, firing at markets, movie theaters, homes and passers-by, the witnesses said.
About 12 cars, each containing three or four gunmen, were involved in the assaults, the witnesses added. One group entered Hyderabad’s main railroad station and fired a hail of bullets at a train.
Doctors said at least 60 people were killed. They expect the death toll to rise since many of the wounded were in serious condition.
Large numbers of troops moved into the city to enforce the curfew, witnesses said. Troops were also sent into hospitals after gunfire broke out there, the doctors said.
Before Friday’s attack, more than 60 people had been killed in Hyderabad since June in ethnic fighting between native Sindhis and Mohajirs, a Muslim people who emigrated to Pakistan from India.
Sindhi nationalists say the influx of Mohajirs, along with Punjabis and Pushtans, is turning them into a minority in their own province.
National elections are scheduled for Nov. 16, and any major unrest in the country could prompt the government to postpone them.
In one area, a small van crammed with heavily armed gunmen stopped outside a movie house and opened fire. Four people were killed and another was injured.
The independent news agency PPI said five people in a wedding party from Karachi were killed in another attack.
Pakistan Radio and Hyderabad’s main mosque issued appeals for blood donors, and all city pharmacies were asked to remain open as hospitals reported shortages of supplies. Despite the curfew, youths were seen running through the streets with medical supplies.
Saed Mohammed, 35, who was wounded in the abdomen in the attack, said he was standing outside a movie theater in Hyderabad when a few cars approached.
“People inside the cars began firing,” he said from his hospital bed in Karachi, where he was taken by his brother after being refused admission to overcrowded hospitals in Hyderabad.
“I saw people falling down all around me, and the cars sped away and I fell unconscious,” he said.
Nusrat Bhutto, whose daughter, Benazir Bhutto, leads the opposition Pakistan People’s Party, appealed in a statement for people to “remain calm and not get provoked by the conspiratorial elements who for their ends want to pit brother against brother.”