2011 Photo Contest, General News, Stories, 2nd prize

Targeted Killings in Karachi


Massimo Berruti

20 September, 2010

The number of targeted shootings in the Karachi area of Pakistan escalated in 2010, with over 1,100 violent deaths recorded by October.v

About the photographer

Massimo Berruti

Massimo Berruti was born in Rome in 1979 and became interested in documentary photography for the first time in 2003, while he was at university. He left university in 2004 and t...

Background story

Karachi, Pakistan

A man lies dead in Golimar Square, near Razvia Market in Karachi. He was killed by government paramilitaries responding to firing by Shi’ite protestors, angry at the assassination of one of their leaders, Imran Farooq, in London. The number of targeted shootings in the Karachi area of Pakistan escalated in 2010, with over 1,100 violent deaths recorded by October. The cause of the killings remains obscure, but it appears to be a mix of political, religious and criminal violence. Some observers blame rivalry between parties that have their electoral bases in different ethnic groups in the city. Others say the violence is linked to criminal gangs, allegedly controlled by major political parties. Some killings appear directly politically motivated, reactions to the assassination of political figures. Sectarian conflict between Shia and Sunni Muslim communities has also been blamed.

Photo credit:
Agence Vu

Massimo Berruti speaks about the project:
"These photos were taken before and after the devastating floods hit Pakistan in August 2010. The idea to cover this story came into my mind after reading in the press about the daily bleeding of this city, an economic hub of Pakistan, involved in this huge fight for dominance. I was reminded by the incidents of the mafia war that took place in my country in the early '80s of the past century.

In the reports there was only incomplete information, there was no awareness or knowledge of what the situation was really about. You could get out in the middle of the night with the idea to cover protesters while burning buses and then find yourself in the middle of a shooting. There was a mother so shocked that she was unable to cry at the loss of her son, banned political groups storming into hospitals and once two journalists were assassinated on the road in front of my hotel. People are suffering and paying a tremendous price for this fight within, a spiral of violence which points the finger at local and central government."

Technical information

Shutter Speed
1/160 s
Focal length
24 mm
Canon EOS 5D Mark II

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