Pakistani security forces raid offices of opposition party

Raid comes after 1 killed as MQM storm TV station.

 

Aamir Latif - KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) – Security forces launched a late night raid Monday against an opposition party in Karachi, hours after party members stormed television stations, clashed with police and raised anti-state slogans, local media reported.

At least one person was killed and several others injured when hundreds of members from the controversial Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) party stormed the office of local the ARY TV station before clashing with police who arrived on the scene to control the situation.

Violence began after MQM leader, Altaf Hussain, who is exiled in London, delivered a fiery speech prompting members to attack three television stations -- ARY, Geo and Samma -- he says did not cover his speeches.

Police hurled teargas and charged the crowd in an attempt to disperse the mob that ransacked ARY offices, burned vehicles and assaulted staff before resorting to aerial firing.

On court orders, local media last year stopped covering provocative speeches by Hussein.

Footage aired on local television stations showed dozens of law enforcing personnel entering MQM headquarters, commonly known as Nine-Zero in the central district moments after they arrested several key party leaders and workers in different parts of the city.

The Karachi-based MQM initially claimed to represent Urdu-speaking migrants who moved to Pakistan after the partition of India in 1947, and has influence in the southern Sindh province. But the group has been accused of operating as an organized gang through its alleged use of violence and intimidation.

MQM accuses security forces of a "one-sided" operation against its activists -- a charge the government denies.

Detainees included opposition leader in state Sindh Assembly, Khawaja Izhar-ul-Hassan. The MQM has 25 members in 342-seat National Assembly and it is the main opposition party in state Sindh Assembly with 51 out of a total of 169 members.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has directed security forces to take action against vandals and those who raised anti-state slogans.

In a statement, Sharif said he had been saddened by anti-Pakistan slogans.


 

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