Karachi death toll rises to 37
May 13, 2007 - 7:54:03 PM

Karachi, May 13 - A day after the worst political violence here in recent years over the country's controversial top judge, the death toll rose to 37 after hospitals received more bodies, as Pakistan's principal port city wore a deserted look amid fresh clashes.

The city's four major hospitals received more dead bodies Sunday, including that of a police officer, probably killed by a mob Saturday night, police and hospital authorities said.

Hoards of people moved around the city, putting up barricades with burnt tyres and boulders.

In fresh violence Sunday, at least one person died as pro-government and opposition groups again took to the streets, according to the Geo private news channel. Police tried to disperse the mob and resorted to tear gas, which turned into exchange of fire, it said.

Pakistani troops were patrolling the streets of Karachi amid further clashes after major political violence Saturday, DPA reported.

Karachi police chief Azhar Farooqi described the situation as 'very tense' and dozens of people were reportedly arrested.

The country's main commercial hub, that has also been sensitive to sectarian violence, saw little traffic, and shops and markets were closed, markedly different from the usual Sunday activity.

Media reports said Saturday's violence was apprehended but authorities and all concerned failed to check it. Karachi's main English newspaper Dawn said the extent of violence was a matter of surprise.

Violence erupted Saturday when workers of opposition parties, preparing for a rally in support of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, clashed with those of the Muttahida Quami Movement -, a party with strong base in the metropolis that supports President Pervez Musharraf.

Addressing a rally Saturday, Musharraf condemned the unrest but laid the blame on Chaudhry who, he said, despite warnings from the Sindh province's authorities, had insisted on going to Karachi to address members of the bar.

'The people are with me,' Musharraf claimed.

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