Aug 23, 10:23 AM EDT

Pakistan seals party offices after Karachi violence

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KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) -- Pakistan's paramilitary troops shuttered the offices of a political party Tuesday after overnight clashes in Karachi left one person dead and eight wounded, officials said.

The troops raided and sealed several offices of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, or MQM, in the port city of Karachi, neighboring Hyderabad district and elsewhere, Brig. Gen. Khurram Shahzad said, adding that some weapons had been confiscated.

The Rangers, a paramilitary force that polices the port city of Karachi, also arrested a number of local MQM leaders and lawmakers.

The secular party represents ethnic Mohajirs -- those who fled to Pakistan from India during the 1947 partition -- and has long dominated politics in Karachi. Its supporters have staged violent protests and clashed with political rivals and police in the past.

MQM supporters attacked three TV stations and clashed with police in Karachi after their self-exiled leader, Altaf Hussain, delivered a speech by phone from London against the Pakistani government on Monday night.

After the speech his supporters chanted "Down with Pakistan."

The Interior Ministry said it would discuss the matter with British authorities and called on London to "cooperate to bring to justice this man involved in such heinous crimes," without elaborating.

Hussain later apologized in a statement, saying he was under mental stress during the speech.

Other party leaders distanced themselves from Hussain. Central party leader Farooq Sattar told a press conference that Hussain's explanation for the speech was "intolerable" and "unacceptable."

Standing before reporters with several MQM lawmakers behind him, Sattar said all party decisions from now on would be taken inside Pakistan.


Associated Press writer Asif Shahzad in Islamabad contributed to this report.

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