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Troops Patrol Pakistan's Karachi After Clashes Kill 24


Bodies of victims of the ethnic clashes at a mortuary of a local hospital in Karachi

Bodies of victims of the ethnic clashes at a mortuary of a local hospital in Karachi

KARACHI (Reuters) -- Pakistani paramilitary troops are patrolling Karachi, with orders to "shoot on sight" violent troublemakers a day after at least 24 people were killed in ethnic clashes in the country's financial capital.

The bloodshed in the southern city comes as troops fought Taliban militants to regain control of a valley just 100 kilometers northwest of the capital, Islamabad.

"We have heavy deployment of troops across the city, and they have been told to go to any extent to control the situation, including shoot at sight orders for miscreants," a spokesman from the paramilitary Rangers said.

"The situation is under control now, but keeping in view the incidents of yesterday, traffic is pretty thin," he added.

Karachi has a long history of ethnic, religious, and sectarian violence, but the timing of the latest clashes will add to concerns that nuclear-armed Pakistan is becoming more unstable and insecure.

Police put the death toll from the April 29 violence at 24, but newspapers reported numbers as high as 31. Dozens of people were wounded in the violence.

Public transport was thin, while authorities had ordered all educational institutions to close.

The violence in Karachi resulted from tensions between Mohajirs, Urdu-speaking people who migrated from India after creation of Pakistan in 1947, and Pashtuns from the northwest.

The teeming city of more than 16 million is home to the largest concentration of Pashtuns outside of the Northwest Frontier Province, where a Taliban insurgency is raging.

Tension has been building as Mohajirs, who dominate the city's administration, have become suspicious of a Pashtun community that has strong Islamist sympathies, following the surge in militancy in the northwest.

High-profile militant attacks in Lahore, the capital of the central province of Punjab, in March, put Karachi on guard and fueled ethnic tensions.
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