KARACHI - At least six people were killed and over 28 wounded in a pitched gunbattle between police and gangsters affiliated with the outlawed People Amman Committee (PAC) in Lyari and surrounding areas. A local PPP leader Hassan Soomro was also among the dead.

The bloody Monday afternoon came, as President Asif Ali Zardari ordered fencing the Karachi-Balochistan border to stop the movement of miscreants and arms, reported a private TV channel.

He also called for taking a number of other stringent measures, including geo-fencing of localities infested with criminal elements.

The criminal elements in Lyari backlashed after a week-long pause against the law enforcement agencies, as they propelled rockets and used hand grenades and automatic weapons for their survival.

On the other hand, the police, headed by Crime Investigation Department (CID) SSP Chaudhry Aslam Khan, were still unable to enter into the congested areas owing to furious resistance and gunfire.

The gunfight started after locals pelted stones and gathered on the main roads to stop police from moving forward.

Witnesses said heavy contingents of police was unable to get inside Lyari because of the armed resistance and remained stuck at the Lee Market area.

Armed men were roaming on the streets freely and targeting the law enforcers.

Police were attacked several times while two personnel were wounded along several other innocent locals, including women and children. Sources say the criminals did not set up posts in the area and were using motorbikes to attack the police.

Sources say key PAC leaders have fled the area. They include Uzair Jan Baloch, Zafar Baloch, Habib Jan Baloch Baba Ladla, Rashid alias Raikah, Jabbar alias Jango, Shahid alias MCB and others.

They said some of them had either left the country or province, while many of them were hiding in different areas of Karachi and interior Sindh.

Earlier, the gangsters were trying to settle the issue through negotiations and portrayed themselves as victims of police atrocities, while reacted like ‘normal enraged mob’ through pelting stones and petrol bombs at police.

Sources said negotiations had failed between the criminal elements and the PPP leadership, triggering violence in the area after the deployment of police.

Police officials said gangsters attacked armed personnel carrier (APC) and police mobiles in Bakrapiri, Aath Chowk, Shah Beg Lane, Lee Market and other surrounding areas.

Local PPP leader Hassan Soomro was gunned down near to his residence in the Bakrapiri area. Police sources say gangsters assassinated him over suspicion of his involvement in police operation.

Other dead people include Ali, Qasim, Shafiq, Zakir and Haq Nawaz, while some 30 people including women and children were also wounded during the exchange of fire.

Most of the victims were shifted to the Lyari General Hospital, but all the attempts to shift the injured to the Civil Hospital failed as ambulances remained stuck outside Lyari because of intense fire.

Meanwhile, President Zardari chaired a high-level meeting at the Bilawal House where he ordered the provincial bosses to observe zero tolerance to street crimes and extortion in Karachi that has paralysed the life of ordinary citizen.

He called for geo-fencing of the localities infested with criminal elements and the provision of latest equipment to police and asked the provincial government to consider innovative ways and means for resource generation for the purpose.

Among other stringent measures that the president advised are equipping the police with aerial patrolling equipment as well as heavy Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs).

Sindh Governor Ishrat-ul-Ibad, Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Home Minister Manzoor Wasan, provincial ministers Syed Murad Ali Shah, Muhammad Ayaz Soomro and Agha Siraj Khan Durrani, besides the IGP, DG Rangers, DG IB and senior federal and provincial government officials.

Presidential Spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar said the president called for a report on the implementation of the decisions taken at the last meeting on law and order held late last month and the difficulties encountered during execution.

“We cannot and must not permit the criminal mafia to hold the city to ransom,” the president remarked.

President Zardari directed strengthening the Special Branch Police and capacity building at all levels to prevent and combat crime.

The president said a scientific study should be carried out about the nature of each crime committed whether it was related to sectarianism, extremism, land grabbing, street crimes, targeted killing, political rivalries and migration from other areas of the country.

President Zardari said efforts be undertaken to ensure law and order in the economic hub of the country and those involved in criminal activities be brought to justice without any consideration of their political affiliations.

Earlier, a meeting of the Sindh PPP core committee was held at the Bilawal House which was attended by the chief minister and provincial ministers Manzoor Wasan, Agha Siraj Durrani, Ayaz Soomro, Murad Ali Shah and Senator Faisal Raza Abidi.

The committee discussed overall political situation in the province and coalition matters. The meeting expressed satisfaction over the policy of reconciliation being pursued and said the policy would be pursued in the large interest of the province and the country.

On the other hand, four people were killed in separate incidents of violence.

The MQM worker, Salman Saleem (22), was gunned down and his friend was wounded in Faiz-e-Aam Colony within the precincts of Mominabad Police Station.

In another gunbattle between the rival political parties left, two men were killed in the Sachal Police Station’s precincts.

The clash took place between the Awami National Party (ANP) and Muttahida Organizing Committee (MOC) over hoisting party flags.

The exchange of fire resulted in the killing of Akhtar Audh, affiliated with MOC (a MQM sister organisation) and a passer-by Shakirullah Mehsud.

A manager of a CNG Station in Nazimabad was gunned down apparently in an act of targeted killing.

Thirty-year-old Syed Asghar Hussain killed at Nazimabad No 7, when attackers sprayed a volley of bullets on his red Cultus.