South Asia

Karachi still tense after 33 die in weekend violence

A Pakistani paramilitary soldier frisks a man in Karachi
Image caption Some traffic returned to the roads on Monday amid a heavy security presence

Police in the Pakistani city of Karachi say that at least 33 people have been killed in violence in the city since Saturday morning.

They say that the city has mostly returned to normal on Monday, although business activity was reduced and there was less traffic on the roads.

Most of the violence took place during a tense by-election in the city.

Cars and buses were set alight despite a large security presence which was again apparent on Monday.

The by-election was for a Sindh provincial assembly seat that was held by local politician Raza Haider, who was murdered in August.

His death triggered riots that killed at least 100 in a city with a history of ethnic and sectarian tensions.

Raza Haider belonged to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), which is part of the governing coalition in Sindh province.

It has the support of the ethnic Mohajir - Urdu speakers who came from India following partition in 1947.

The MQM released a statement on Monday which said they must be taken into confidence by the government when it comes to restoring law and order in Karachi.

"Only then can security be guaranteed," the statement said.

The MQM's main rival, the ethnic Pashtun-based Awami National Party (ANP) boycotted the poll, alleging fraud.

Sectarian attacks

Clashes between armed activists broke out on Saturday despite tight security.

The BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan in Karachi says that although the polling is now over, violence continues in isolated areas of the city, especially in the Orangi area, where the election was held.

Mr Haider was shot in a Karachi mosque on 2 August.

MQM leaders initially blamed the ANP, and many ethnic Pashtuns and their businesses were targeted in the ensuing violence.

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