US orders children out of city
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KARACHI: Officials warned yesterday that bringing peace to the city could mean the 'suspension of some rights', as the United States ordered its children out of Karachi following the killing last week of two US diplomats.
'The situation is not normal and we may have to take abnormal measures,' one official said. 'This could entail some areas in the city being declared troubled areas,' he said.
A senior official said the imposition of a state of emergency and curfew could not be ruled out, but added that it was not immediately on the cards.
'For now, the freedom of the people is curtailed by terrorists anyway. The Government has the right and responsibility to act as it deems necessary to restore law and order,' another said.
Meanwhile, the US State Department ordered the departure of all school-age children of American diplomats from Karachi following the killing of the two US consulate officials last week.
Other family members of US officials working in Karachi have been given the option of leaving.
The city's prestigious Karachi Grammar School remained closed yesterday after school authorities received a telephone call saying a bomb had been placed in the grounds.
Pakistani authorities have issued a poster showing sketches of four alleged terrorists, saying all were suspected of involvement in major terrorist cases, including the killing of the two Americans.
Investigators speculated that a single terrorist group was responsible for killing the two US consulate officials and attacks on two Shi'ite Muslim mosques that left 20 dead last month.
They said it was possible the same group launched a rocket at the residence of veteran Pakistani politician, Pir Pagara, last week, near to the American school. No one was hurt in the attack.
The investigators said ballistic evidence indicated the same weapons were used to attack the Shi'ite mosques on February 25 and a subsequent attack on a house five days later in which seven Sunni Muslims were killed.
'We are still awaiting the results on ballistics for the American case,' one official said, but added there was evidence to suggest that the attacks on the mosque and diplomats were carried out by the same group.
'If they [the ballistic reports] match up we will have hard evidence that one gang is behind the killings.' Karachi's business community has reacted strongly to the increasingly unstable security situation, demanding the Army be called out to restore order and night curfews be imposed.
Businessmen this week threatened not to pay taxes or utility bills if there was no visible improvement in the security situation in the coming month. They also said they would withdraw private-sector advertising from the state-owned electronic media.
Domestic criticism focuses on allegations the Government only took steps once foreign diplomats were killed and largely ignored Karachi's endemic violence earlier, a charge the Government denies.