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Violence, Killings Shut Down Karachi

A Pakistani street vwndor sits next to a row of shuttered shops in a Karachi market after a week long period of violence in the city, March 31 2012.
A Pakistani street vwndor sits next to a row of shuttered shops in a Karachi market after a week long period of violence in the city, March 31 2012.

A 24-hour span of violence and killings has shut down Pakistan's largest city.

Most shops and businesses in Karachi closed Saturday, after gangs of gunmen shot and killed 14 people in a spree that started Friday and continued through the overnight hours.

The leader of one of the city's biggest political parties, Waseem Ahmed with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, placed the blame on the government.

"The way in which, with the government's support, murderers, thieves, robbers, and kidnappers are given privileges in police stations and their hideouts are known to everyone, but the dilemma is that those whose sons are being murdered and kidnapped are being raided by police," said Ahmed.

Karachi shopkeeper Mohammad Ameen worries about how much longer the city's running battles can go on.

"Those who are committing these crimes are not right, and neither are those who are making them do it. Muslims are killing Muslims. These are signs of the end of the world," said Ameen.

In the meantime, the city's poorest say they continue to suffer the most.  Daily wage laborer Malik Faizan says he has no way to earn money.

"What should the daily-wage laborers who earn Rupees 200 ($2.20) per day do?  The situation is bad every day. It has been like this for the past three, four days. I am the sole earning member of my family, and there are four mouths to feed. What should I do?'' asked Faizan.

Hundreds of people have been killed in Karachi in recent years in similar waves of violence.  Many of the killings are blamed on ethnic gangs linked to rival political factions such as the majority Urdu-speaking MQM and the Awami National Party of Pashtun migrants.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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