KARACHI, Pakistan - Residents of Pakistan's largest city cautiously emerged from their homes yesterday and struggled to find food and fuel amid the blackened buildings, shattered glass, and burnt-out vehicles littering the streets of Karachi.
With police and troops patrolling, Karachi appeared quiet for the first time since former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's assassination Thursday sparked rioting.
The previous three days of clashes and looting left at least 40 people dead across Sindh province, where Karachi is located, said provincial Home Minister Akhtar Zemin. Hundreds of bank branches were destroyed and 950 vehicles burned.
The normally bustling port city remained a virtual ghost town. Nearly all shops were closed, and streets normally packed with traffic were empty, save for boys playing cricket.
Mohammed Umar, 60, a retired government official, left his apartment to buy flatbread at one of only two shops open in a main market area. His wife normally bakes bread at home, he said, but they had run out of flour, sugar and milk.
The night before, Umar said, he had watched looters cutting locks off shops and questioned why authorities were not taking more aggressive steps to stop the chaos.
"The government is purely responsible for this," he said.
Next door, Mussarad Nasim Albert, 49, a nurse, bought some laundry detergent from a supermarket whose owner peddled goods from beneath a metal door and through bars usually open during business hours. Albert said she had been unable to get to work the last few days.
She lamented that goods were now selling at nearly double normal prices, and so she bought just a few necessities such as potatoes and onions. "There is nothing in the house," she said. "I am searching for things."
Makeshift barriers surrounded almost every gas station, including one where Mohammad Shoaib, 18, was waiting in hope of filling his small motorcycle. He was to have taken an entrance exam to seek a bachelor's degree in computer science, but the test was postponed indefinitely because of the violence.