Murder in Pakistan

KARACHI, Pakistan The gunmen of Karachi usually strike at night.

Sometimes it's a sniper who fires from a rooftop at pedestrians. Often it's a man on a motorcycle who blasts away on a busy street and then speeds off into the darkness. Lately, the attackers have grown so bold as to enter mosques and fire on men kneeling in prayer.

Political, religious and ethnic feuds have all been factors in the almost daily shootings that have left more than 1,000 people dead over the past year in Karachi, a port city of at least 10 million people.

Ten people were killed Monday in the latest spasm of violence. In the worst of the recent shooting, five people died when gunmen opened fire as they entered an office of the Mohajir Qaumi Movement, an opposition political group, police said.

The local government is too weak and poorly run to pick up garbage or hand out parking tickets, much less catch the well-armed gunmen. Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has pledged to clean up the chaos, but there is a strong sense that Karachi, Pakistan's business capital, has spun out of control.

''People have never felt so unsafe and helpless,'' said Sarfraz Ahmed, a resident of the Karachi Central district, the area hardest hit by the violence. ''We never know when anyone will become the target of a terrorist attack.''

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