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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Pakistan Sees Worst Violence In Years on Streets of Karachi

KARACHI, Pakistan -- Pro-government and opposition groups blamed each other Sunday for the worst political violence to grip Pakistan in years, as fresh riots broke out and the toll from bloody street battles in Karachi rose to 37 dead and over 150 wounded.

Unrest resumed Sunday in several ethnic Pashtun-dominated neighborhoods, and police dispersed a crowd in the area using tear gas.

Competing rallies timed for a visit to Karachi on Saturday by the country's top judge sparked gunfights and clashes between rival political activists that left corpses in the streets and raised new fears for the nation's stability.

A crisis has been brewing since Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry on March 9 over allegations that he abused his office.

Critics accuse Musharraf of trying to sideline the independent-minded judge to prevent legal challenges to prolonging his nearly eight-year rule.

Order was largely restored Sunday. Security forces in armored personnel carriers and pickup trucks topped with machine guns patrolled the streets.

But tensions remained high, particularly among Pashtuns and Urdu-speaking supporters of the pro-government Mutahida Qaumi Movement party. Opposition parties have accused them of initiating much of Saturday's violence, in which Pashtun supporters of Chaudhry were among the dead.

Officials contacted at four hospitals across Karachi said the casualty toll had risen to 37 dead and about 150 wounded.