Five bikes set on fire as commuters, protesters clash in Karachi

KARACHI: At least five motorcycles were set ablaze after commuters clashed with Shia community protesters near Drigh Road on Friday.

The countrywide protests that began three days ago, to express solidarity with families of 11 Hazara community miners in Machh, Balochistan last week, have spread to over 15 different spots in Karachi.

Roadblocks put in place owing to the protests have resulted in gridlocks across the city at peak hours. However, traffic is being diverted from affected roads to alternative routes.

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The Shia Ulema Council (SUC), Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM), Imamia Students Organisation (ISO), along with other members of Shia community, have been staging sit-ins at multiple spots across Karachi, to express solidarity with the miners’ families.

The sit-ins are being held at Numaish Chowrangi, Nipa Chowrangi, University Road near Safari Park, Abul Hassan Isphani Road, Kamran Chowrangi, Natha Khan Bridge, Quaidabad, Shah Faisal Colony, Power House Chowrangi, Khuda ki Basti, Nazimabad No 1 and other locations.

“Their [the miners’ families] only demand is that Prime Minister Imran Khan visit them, condole the deaths of their beloved family members and give assurance that the perpetrators of the attack would be caught and punished at the earliest,” said one of the protesters.

“We have become tired of picking up the bodies of our people,” Syed Agha Raza, a Shia Hazara political leader, had told Reuters previously.

Similarly, young protestor, Masooma Yaqoob Ali, had told Reuters her elder brother along with four other relatives were among those killed. “Now we have no male member [of our family] to take coffins of our brother and other relatives to the graveyard for burial,” she said, shedding tears as she spoke.

Long queues of traffic-choked University Road, MA Jinnah Road, Sharea Faisal and the National Highway. Both tracks of Abul Hassan Isphahani Road also remained closed for traffic.

Earlier today, the traffic police had urged commuters to use alternate routes. “Please drive carefully. Staff is present and managing traffic,” the statement said.

A day earlier, traffic disruptions had been reported in multiple areas of Karachi while operations of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) were also affected due to the protests, leading to multiple flights from Karachi to Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar and Faisalabad being either cancelled or delayed by a few hours.

PIA spokesperson Abdullah Khan had said traffic congestion on the routes towards the Jinnah International Airport caused difficulty for passengers and staff trying to reach the airport.

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