300 killed in Karachi in three months: rights body

300 killed in Karachi in three months: rights body

KARACHI - Agence France-Presse
300 killed in Karachi in three months: rights body

Local residents (background) run for cover as gunfire is exchanged between police and criminal gangs in the Lyari neighbourhood of Karachi on April 2, 2012. AFP PHOTO

Ethnic, sectarian and politically linked violence in Pakistan's financial capital Karachi has killed at least 300 people so far this year, a human rights organisation said Tuesday.

Parts of the Arabian Sea port city have become battlegrounds in the last week, with authorities unable to prevent spiralling violence blamed on activists from political parties representing competing ethnic groups.

"About 300 people have been the victims of violent shootings in the last three months," Zohra Yusuf, chairwoman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), told AFP.

The HRCP previously said 1,715 people were killed last year in sudden flare-ups of violence in the city, which is Pakistan's most populous.

"The figures compiled by our staff and the death toll for the last three months confirmed by the police shows the number of victims of violence was not less than 300," Yusuf said.

The figures include the assassination of 49 political activists, while the rest of the victims were people with no political affiliations, the HRCP statement said.

The government has campaigned to end the clashes and deployed hundreds of additional police and paramilitary forces in the city, but the killings have continued with at least 24 people reported dead in the past week.

Much of the violence has been blamed on tensions between supporters of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), rooted in the Urdu-speaking majority, and the Awami National Party (ANP), which represents ethnic Pashtun migrants.