Militants yesterday attacked the stock exchange in the Pakistani city of Karachi, killing at least six people — four security guards, a policeman and a bystander, police said.
Special police forces deployed to the scene of the attack and in a swift operation secured the building.
Local police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon confirmed that all four attackers were also dead.
The Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA), ethnic Baloch separatists, claimed responsibility for the attack. Over the past few years, the group has hit a string of high-profile targets across the country, including in the southern port city of Karachi.
The attackers were armed with grenades and automatic rifles, and launched the attack by opening fire at the entrance gate of the Pakistan Stock Exchange, the police said.
Heavily armed special forces quickly surrounded the building, located in the heart of Karachi’s financial district, where the Pakistan State Bank is located, as well as the headquarters of several national and international financial institutions.
Local television stations broadcast images of police in full body armor surrounding the building, but still staying outside the high-walled compound of the stock exchange.
Rizwan Ahmend, a police official at the scene, said that after opening fire, the gunmen entered the stock exchange grounds.
He said that after the attack was over, police found food supplies on the bodies of the gunmen, indicating they might have planned a long siege, which police quickly thwarted.
Inside the stock exchange, broker Yaqub Memon said that he and others were huddled inside their offices while the attack was underway.
As the firing ended and the gunmen were killed, police gathered all the employees and brokers in a single room, while security forces went floor by floor to ensure that no explosives had been left behind, he said.
Police spokesman Shazia Jehan said that the police called the bomb disposal team to the stock exchange to clear the building of any explosive devises.
The BLA is one of several insurgent groups fighting primarily in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan Province, which has been rocked by separatist, Islamist and sectarian violence for years.
The group in the past few years has targeted infrastructure projects along with Chinese workers in Pakistan multiple times, including during a brazen daylight attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi, which killed four people in 2018.
In May last year, the BLA attacked a luxury hotel near the Afghan border at Gwadar, where a port development is the flagship project of a China-funded multibillion-dollar national infrastructure project.
The group yesterday circulated to the media a photograph of four men in full body armor and camouflage outfits, saying they were the militants who attacked the stock exchange.
The Karachi stock exchange is Pakistan’s largest and oldest stock exchange, incorporated today with the exchanges in Islamabad and Lahore.
Additional reporting by AFP
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