Uneasy calm prevails in parts of Karachi after flare-up in ethnic tensions

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An uneasy calm prevailed in parts of Karachi on Friday after a call for protest and strikes was given by ethnic groups in the wake of the killing of 35-year-old Bilal Kaka in Hyderabad and a violent demonstration at Sohrab Goth yesterday that followed the incident.

On Tuesday, Kaka was killed and five of his companions were injured in a scuffle at a hotel in Hyderabad, drawing an angry reaction from nationalist parties who believed the attackers were Afghan nationals.

On Thursday, several political parties, including JI, MQM-Pakistan, Awami National Party, and nationalist leaders Jalal Mehmood Shah and Ayaz Latif Palijo issued statements, urging both Sindhis and Pakhtuns — the two groups at the heart of these tensions — to demonstrate restraint. ‘

They also demanded the government take prompt action to defuse the tensions.

Ccommercial activities remained suspended in several localities of the metropolis on Friday, where police and other law enforcers carried out flag marches to maintain law and order.

However, after Friday prayers, protests were reported in the Sohrab Goth area where the police detained some people.

City police chief Javed Akhtar Odho told media that some people tried to torch an old vehicle near Sohrab Goth and damaged other property after zuhr prayers.

However, he said, the police took immediate action and detained around 10 to 15 people.

“Since Thursday evening, over 45 persons have been arrested over charges of rioting and arson,” Odho said, adding that detainees had been identified with help of video clips obtained from the site.

Meanwhile, the emotionally-charged crowd started gathering at the Afghan Cut near Superhighway and allegedly instigated others for riots.

They started pelting stones and erected temporary barriers put up on the main highway, resulting in a massive traffic jam. Some of the protesters were allegedly armed while others were carrying sticks, iron rods, and stones.

The FIR stated that the demonstrators started ransacking the Karachi bus terminal at around 4.45pm. They overpowered two police officers deployed there for security and allegedly snatched an official pistol from ASI Mohammed Azam. An official SMG was also allegedly snatched from the police mobile patrol.

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