Gunmen have opened fire on a political rally in the Pakistani city of Karachi, killing at least nine people and sparking a riot.
City police chief Akhtar Gorchani said nine people were killed and more then 30 wounded in shootouts on Tuesday.
Another police officer, Mohammed Amir, said the attackers fired on a rally held by Awami Tehrik, a small regional party, and it was attended by members of several other parties in the city. It was unclear who the attackers were, Amir said.
Following the incident, protesters torched more than two dozen cars and motorcycles and also set ablaze several shops.
The rally was in protest against the proposed creation of a Muhajir province and a recent police crackdown in Lyari area.
Muhajirs, descendants of Urdu-speakers who migrated from India after the creation of Pakistan in 1947, are the biggest community and dominate the city's politics through the MQM party.
Ethnic Sindhis, who mostly live in rural areas, have warned that attempts to divide their southern province could lead to widespread violence.
The Awami Tehrik has called for a strike in the Sindh province, of which Karachi is the capital, on Wednesday.
Karachi has long suffered outbreaks of violence, either carried out by the Taliban, criminal elements or because of turf wars between rival political and ethnic groups.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said at least 500 people were killed in sudden flare-ups of violence in the city in the first four months of this year. Last year, violence claimed 1,715 lives.
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|William A. Cook|