South Asia

Pakistan: Karachi violence 'kills 39' in three days

Pakistani policemen stand guard in a deserted street in a western neighbourhood affected by the political violence in Karachi on July 7, 2011
Image caption Residents say they are terrified to go out in certain Karachi neighbourhoods

At least 39 people have been killed in three days of violence between rival political groups in the Pakistani city of Karachi, security officials say.

The authorities said they had detained several suspects and were trying to take control of situation.

The killings started on Tuesday evening in western neighbourhoods of Karachi.

The city is plagued by extortion rackets, mafia-run land-grabs and turf wars waged by armed groups linked to rival political parties.

Residents say they are terrified to go out as intense gunfire is still going on.

In many households, food stocks are running low.

One woman told the BBC there was no milk or bread left in her house to feed the family.

The violence so far appears largely restricted to certain areas, but it has on occasion spilled over into other parts of the city.

In one case, armed men on motorbikes stopped a mini-bus and shot dead five passengers.

In another, a five year old girl died when she was caught in the crossfire between rival groups. Karachi is not only Pakistan's main port city, but also a major industrial and commercial centre.

There are fears that with last week's resignation from the government of Karachi's main political party -the MQM - increased violence and instability could bring Pakistan's economic capital to a standstill.

More on this story