100 killed in Karachi in one week

Death toll from a week of violence hits more than 100 as strike called by political party cripples Pakistan's largest city.

Eight-year-old Sumayya, whose uncle, Imran Ali, was injured in a shootout in Karachi yesterday, watches as he is brought to hospital for treatment.
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KARACHI // A strike called by a political party crippled Pakistan's largest city yesterday as the death toll from a week of violence hit more than 100.

Businesses, schools and government offices were closed, while public buses and taxis stayed off the roads.

The city's leading political party, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), called the strike in protest against recent violence.

Other politicians, industrialists and citizens stepped up calls for the army to intervene to quell violence destabilising Karachi, where more than 100 have been killed in a week.

"We demand the armed forces take over the city, restore law and order and ensure safety to innocent people's lives," said Khalid Tawab, the vice president of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

"Business activity has been disrupted because of incessant killing. People don't want to go to market because of risks to life," he said.

Ethnic and criminal violence blamed on gangs has killed 101 people in the past week, the latest bout in the worst criminal and ethnic violence to hit Pakistan's largest city and financial capital for 16 years.

"At least nine people were killed since Monday evening, so far 101 people have been killed since Wednesday morning," a senior security official said.

Security officials said they had found the bodies of victims who had been kidnapped and tortured, stuffed into sacks and thrown on the streets with notes warning of more violence.

A government official working in the health department confirmed the casualties.

The violence has been linked to ethnic tensions between the Mohajirs, the Urdu-speaking majority represented by the MQM, and Pashtun migrants affiliated to the Awami National Party (ANP).

* Agence France-Presse with additional reporting by Associated Press