Pakistan's Karachi in complete strike, 18 arrested over riots

Police have arrested 18 people since riots triggered by the bombing destroyed hundreds of shops.

Pakistan's Karachi in complete strike, 18 arrested over riots

Pakistan's commercial capital nearly shut down on Friday as religious and political leaders called for a strike to protest against violence after a suicide bomber killed 43 people at a religious procession this week.

Karachi's streets were nearly empty. The stock exchange, which normally operates on the first day of the year, was closed.

Police have arrested 18 people since riots triggered by the bombing destroyed hundreds of shops, costing Pakistan's biggest city an estimated 30 billion rupees ($356 million) in damages.

"We have no information of any specific threats for today," Karachi police chief Waseem Ahmed told Reuters. Nevertheless, police and paramilitary forces carried out patrols.

Residents were not taking any chances.

"We are already losing business and can't take the risk of going out today and opening our shops," said Saleem Ahmed, who sells electronics at one of the city's main markets.

"If something happens or anyone comes and damages, say, one refrigerator or deep freezer, I will lose more money than what I would have earned the whole day, so I better stay home," he said.

The United Nations plans to move some of its international staff out of Pakistan, a spokeswoman said on Thursday.

Hundreds of shops were torched in the rampage that followed the bombing that hit Karachi, a teeming city of 18 million.

According to officials, Karachi generates 68 percent of government revenue and 25 percent of Pakistan's gross domestic product. It is also home to two of the country's main ports.

The Taliban, determined to topple the government, claimed responsibility for Monday's attack.



Reuters


Last Mod: 01 Ocak 2010, 15:30
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