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Romeo-and-Juliet story ignites deadly mob violence in Karachi

A Romeo-and-Juliet story between lovers from traditionally hostile ethnic groups set off mob violence Wednesday in Karachi, killing two people and injuring eight others.

Stray gunfire killed Hari Ram, a 55-year-old Hindu riding a bus, and laborer Habib Gul, who was passing by, police said. Also, eight people were reported injured in a day of hit-and-run rioting in Pakistan's largest city.Six policemen, dragged out of a police van and beaten, were reported in serious condition, as were two doctors whose car was torched by the mob.

Gangs of Pathans went on the rampage to protest the alleged kidnapping of a Pathan girl by a Mohajir boy. The boy's family say the couple eloped, and no kidnapping took place. The two lovers were in hiding. The boy, Kanwar Ahson, is a nephew of a member of the National Assembly.

It was the first clash between the two communities since 1990, and authorities feared it could reignite simmering ethnic tensions. In 1985, a traffic accident that killed a Mohajir girl set off months of fighting that killed about 1,000 people.

Scores of Pathans vandalized the luxury Defense Colony neighborhood Wednesday. Others set fire to a van and stoned the home of Karachi's chief minister, the highest elected official in the province.

"There is a mob of Pathans with sticks and stones breaking traffic lights and smashing up cars," resident Samina Ibrahim told the Associated Press.

Police fired bullets into the air, scattering the crowd.

Police also fired tear gas and live ammunition into the air to disperse hundreds of Pathans who blocked roads with burning tires in the Clifton section of Karachi.