Gunmen with automatic weapons fired on two Sunni Muslim crowds Sunday, killing at least 21 people and wounding 26 in a burst of sectarian violence in this troubled city.
It was one of Pakistan’s bloodiest days in recent years and raised questions about whether Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s government can control the streets of the nation’s biggest metropolis.
Police said they suspected Shiite Muslims carried out Sunday’s attacks in retaliation for a series of Saturday night shootings in Karachi that left 12 men dead, most of them Shiites.
The increasingly bitter SunniShiite feud is one of several running battles in Karachi, a city of 10 million convulsed by ethnic, political and religious violence in recent years.
In the first attack Sunday, four gunmen in a car sprayed bullets at people near a street stall set up by Harakat-ul-Ansar, a group of Sunni religious students, police said.
Twelve people were killed, including a 12-year-old boy, and 13 were wounded, several of them seriously.
Harakat-ul-Ansar hasn’t been involved in previous sectarian violence, and it appeared the gunmen were simply targeting Sunnis.
Several hours later, there was a second drive-by shooting, this time outside the Babul Islam Mosque, where Sunnis were praying. Nine men were killed and 13 wounded.