Pakistan: clashes at Karachi airport leave two dead

Published February 2nd, 2016 - 01:30 GMT

Two protesters from Pakistan International Airlines staff were killed and several more were injured at Karachi's international airport on Tuesday when clashes broke out between security forces and demonstrators.

Police and paramilitary forces used tear gas and water cannons on the protesters who were demonstrating the national airline protesting privatization plans and barricaded the main entrance to the Jinnah International Airport around noon.

Later in the day, gunfire erupted however the source of the shots remains unclear. The two law enforcement agencies denied claims they opened fire on the demonstrators. 

The spokeswoman for the state-run Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center, Dr. Seemi Jamali, informed AFP that the hospital received a total of 10 wounded, one of whom later died.

"Four people with gunshot wounds were brought to the hospital, one succumbed to his injuries while the other three are in stable condition," she said. The remaining six, including journalists who had been covering the demonstrations, were treated for other injuries.

Another PIA staffer, who was also shot, was rushed to the private Aga Khan University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

"The PIA employee was brought dead to our emergency department and our team attempted to revive him for 20 minutes," a spokesman for the hospital told AFP. The deceased was identified as Inayat Raza, by his friend and colleague Nadeem Jaffer. 

The police chief of the city's eastern district, Kamran Fazal, stated: "The situation escalated when a couple of gunshots were fired. My officers told me that they might be fired from the crowd. 

"We are searching for the empty shells and only then can we establish who opened fire."

The PIA union for employees announced its intentions to shut down airline flights the day before, following weeks of token strikes against government proposals to complete the partial sale of the carrier by July.

The move comes after mismanagement and severe financial losses which have tarnished the airline's reputation.

PIA has been implicated in a number of constroversies over the years, including the imprisonment of a drunk pilot in the UK in 2013, and has been known to have frequent delays and flight cancellations.

The airline has also traditionally given away tens of thousands of free tickets each year, contributing significantly to its losses.

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