Violence rocked Pakistan’s largest city Saturday as rival ethnic groups fought street battles and set fire to shops, houses and buses, leaving at least 60 people dead and 200 injured. Authorities said the violence was a backlash to Friday’s shooting rampage in two other southern cities in which as many as 162 people were killed and 300 wounded.
Police and witnesses said hundreds of immigrant Mohajirs, convinced that Sindhi nationalists were responsible for the massacres, attacked Sindhi homes in eastern Karachi early Saturday, sparking a series of street battles.
The trouble quickly spread to include three of Karachi’s four districts, where thousands of rioters, many of them masked and carrying rifles, blocked roads and began setting fires, police said.
Troops were finally ordered into riot-torn areas of Karachi, and officials announced an indefinite curfew for most of the city.
It was the worst explosion of ethnic violence in nearly two years in southern Pakistan.
News reports quoted officials as saying that Friday’s massacre in the city of Hyderabad and the suburb of Latifabad was carried out by Sindhi gunmen who opened fire from moving cars on crowds of people--mostly Mohajirs--in buses and marketplaces.
Both Hyderabad and Karachi, a city of 8 million, have been the scene of bloody clashes between Mohajirs and Sindhis who want the province to be independent.
Opposition leaders said Friday’s massacres were staged in an attempt to force the postponement of the Nov. 16 elections.