A fresh wave of violence gripped Pakistan's commercial hub of Karachi on Thursday, with officials saying at least 39 people had been killed over two days in gang wars and political disputes.
The rival gangs battled it out over bhatta (protection money) collections in the city ahead of the Eid shopping season when traders and shopkeepers say they make the most sales of the season.
A former MP and leader of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, Waja Karim Dad, was also killed on Wednesday, as militant groups fought it out in the Lyari area of the city, in violence that has now engulfed many parts of the city.
Over the week, police discovered several bodies of workers belonging to various political parties. In most instances, these men - usually in their 20's or 30's, were tortured before being killed. "It seems that some quarters are giving a message to their rivals," says police chief Wajid Durrani.
But home minister of the province, Manzoor Wassan, said that this was more than ordinary political violence and killing. "We are faced with a situation where people are being killed for no reason. It seems that there are many forces at play to disrupt the peace of the city," he told newsmen.
On Thursday, major businesses and commercial centres were closed in Karachi.