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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Death toll from Karachi violence reaches 20

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, April 30, IRNA -- Police in the Pakistani southern port city of Karachi has faced stiff resistance from heavily armed men, who used rockets and hand grenades, killing at least five people including a police officer.

Police sources said that at least 20 people including four police officials have been killed while 55 injured during the police operation against criminal gangs in Lyari area that entered its third day on Sunday.

A senior Superintendent of Police Crime Investigation Department Chaudhry Aslam says that the operation was launched to clear the area of criminal elements, who are blamed for crimes in Karachi.

But residents of Lyari, the area of ethnic Balochs, termed the operation as a political victimization launched on the ‘behest’ of rival Urdu-speaking powerful Mutahida Qaumi Movement or MQM. The MQM and the government denied the charges. Lyari is considered as the stronghold of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party.

Zafar Baloch, a leader of the Baloch community, blamed the police for violence in the area, saying representatives of the area are ready to solve the issue through negotiation.

The police combated heavily armed miscreants who confronted the police with rocket launchers and grenades, local media reported. The police rounded off tens of wanted criminals during the operation.

Heavy firing continued on the third day in different parts of Lyari. Three out of four armoured personnel carriers (APCs) were destroyed in the attacks.

The miscreants fired five rockets at police and opened indiscriminate fire, which injured five including a TV cameraman. The injured were shifted to a hospital.

The residents of Lyari, fearful of escalating violence and deprived of food, started migrating to safer places, local reports said.

Police said that the violence started when the police launched operation on Friday to arrest several wanted men, who are blamed for crimes in Karachi. The wanted men belonged to Peoples Peace Committee, which has been banned by the government.

**1422
Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 80104790



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