Karachi: Unknown assailants on motorcycle opened gunfire on Friday in downtown Karachi, killing at least three people, including a woman and injuring seven others, police and rescue workers said. Three of the injured men are in critical condition. The woman died at the hospital.

The attack took place in the Kharadar market area.

The incident led to widespread panic among shopkeepers and residents who opted to stay indoors. Rumours were strife that a battle between two rival gangs was due.

The Kharadar area is part of the old city and adjoins restive Lyari town.

Officials probing the case said they have yet to ascertain the identity of the killers

They added that the main motive seemed to be to scare people before the holy month of Ramadan to easily extort money.

Violent incidents have been on the rise with a recent incident where a car showroom owner was murdered for not giving extortion money. The owner had been receiving death threats for the past several months.

In Korangi area, an extortionist was caught red-handed while trying to escape after throwing a hand grenade.

The residents of the area nabbed the criminal when he fell down from the motorcycle. He was tied up with ropes and beaten badly. Residents resisted to give him to the police.

Meanwhile many people chanted slogans against the police for being corrupt and inefficient. The man was eventually handed over to the police when rangers arrived on the scene. The hand grenade attack injured at least 10 people including two children.