At least seven people were killed, including five who were charred to death, and 15 others injured on Wednesday when rival groups of lawyers clashed in this southern port city of Pakistan, sparking large-scale violence.
The two groups of lawyers clashed near the office of the Sindh High Court Bar Association, following which mobs of armed men exchanged fire at several places in the city.
Five persons, including a woman, were burnt alive when a mob torched Tahir Plaza, a building on the busy MA Jinnah Road that has the offices of several lawyers. Two others were shot dead in separate incidents of firing, police said.
President Pervez Musharraf expressed shock over the violence and directed authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure peace and calm. He also directed them to bring the "perpetrators and disruptive elements to justice".
Musharraf appealed to the people to cooperate with law enforcement personnel in ensuring peace and tranquillity in the metropolis.
Meanwhile, police said the violence broke out after some lawyers attacked a rally of lawyers belonging to the legal aid committee of the Mutthaida Qaumi Movement, who were holding a protest against the manhandling of former Federal minister Sher Afgan in Lahore last night.
Soon the violence spread to other parts of the city, including Gurumandir, Malir and New Karachi. Markets and shops across the city were closed and police and paramilitary Pakistan Rangers were deployed to quell the violence.
Gun-wielding men on motorcycles opened fire at several places, creating panic and forcing shop-owners to shut down their establishments. Mobs also set ablaze a bank and several buses, trucks and cars in different parts of the city.