- Title: PAKISTAN: Pakistani troops told to shoot rioters in Karachi
- Date: 13th May 2007
- Summary: ARMOURED VEHICLE ON STREET
- Embargoed: 28th May 2007 13:00
- Location: Pakistan
- Country: Pakistan
- Topics: Crime / Law Enforcement,Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAAARO88NLBK7YA34CXLZ61ZSHX
- Story Text: The Pakistani government authorises paramilitary troops to shoot anyone involved in serious violence in Karachi, where 37 people have been killed over the past two days. The Pakistani government authorised paramilitary troops on Sunday (May 13) to shoot anyone involved in serious violence in Karachi, where 37 people have been killed over the past two days.
On Saturday (May 12), 34 people were killed and more than 130 wounded in the country's worst political street violence in two decades, sparked when Pakistan's suspended top judge tried to meet supporters in the southern city.
Violence between pro-government and opposition activists eased on Sunday but three people were killed in separate incidents and protesters set fire to several shops and cars.
Government attempts to remove Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry over unspecified accusations of misconduct on March 9 have outraged the judiciary and the opposition.
The judicial crisis has snowballed into a campaign against President Pervez Musharraf and is the most serious challenge to the authority of the president, who is also army chief, since he seized power in 1999.
But the violence in Pakistan's biggest city sparked by the judge's visit has raised the spectre of bloody ethnic feuding that plagued Karachi in the 1980s and 1990s.
Early Monday (May 14), the governor of southern Sindh province reiterated the Interior Secretary's earlier announcement regarding the shooting order given to the paramilitary troops.
"The are allowed to take cognizance of any offence that is being committed and to arrest culprits, miscreants who are creating, who are damaging, who are inciting violence and who are causing damage, to loss of life and property. And they have already started this action. I am told that in couple of hours they have actually made some arrests and have stopped incidents which may have happened if this action had not been taken place," said Dr.Ishratul Ibad Khan, governor for southern Sindh province.
Khan added: "The government of Sindh has reviewed the overall situation and we came to conclusion that now it is a requirement. The situation warrants that the Rangers (paramilitary) be given, be allowed to take full control of certain areas."
Two political activists, one from an opposition party and one from the pro-government Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), which runs Karachi, were killed on Sunday. The body of a third man, shot in the head, was found in a volatile neighbourhood.
Chaudhry, who denies wrongdoing and has refused to resign, flew into Karachi on Saturday, hoping to meet his supporters. But the violence prevented him from leaving the airport.
Musharraf condemned the clashes and criticised Chaudhry for ignoring a government appeal not to go to the volatile city.
In a speech to tens of thousands of supporters in Islamabad on Saturday, Musharraf ruled out a state of emergency.
He said elections due this year -- first a presidential election followed by a general election -- would be on time.
The police have been widely criticised for failing to stop the clashes between members of the MQM, which opposed Chaudhry's visit, and its old enemies including the religious alliance and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP).
Most of those killed were members of the PPP and the opposition Awami National Party (ANP), which represents ethnic Pashtuns.
Lawyers are due to boycott courts on Monday and the Islamist alliance has called for a nationwide protest.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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