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30 Killed in Pakistan Political Violence

  • VOA News

Clashes between government supporters and opposition protesters have killed at least 30 people in the Pakistani city of Karachi.

The unrest began Saturday morning as pro-government activists set up roadblocks to prevent opposition groups from gathering at a rally in support of suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry.

Gunfire broke out between the two groups and scores of vehicles were torched. Pro-government gunmen opened fire on a television station after it broadcast pictures of the violence.

The rioting prevented the former chief justice from speaking at the rally. Chaudhry spent the day stuck at the Karachi airport until he got on a plane and returned to Islamabad.

President Pervez Musharraf, speaking to a pro-government rally Saturday in Islamabad, ruled out imposing a state of emergency. General Musharraf said such a move made no sense because the people of Pakistan are with him.

Chaudhry has become a national symbol of opposition to General Musharraf since the president suspended him two months ago on charges of official misconduct.

Chaudhry's suspension sparked outrage among Pakistan's judiciary and opposition parties, and triggered a series of protests nationwide.

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