Activists attacked the Karachi city stock exchange in Pakistan on Monday, killing at least three people – two guards and a police officer, police said. Special police forces were deployed to the scene of the attack and quickly secured the building, killing the four gunmen.
There were no reports of injuries to brokers and employees inside the stock exchange and a separatist militant group from a neighboring province claimed responsibility for the attack.
The attackers were armed with grenades and automatic rifles, police said. They launched the attack by opening fire at the front door of the Pakistan Stock Exchange in the southern port city, the country’s financial center.
Heavily armed special forces quickly surrounded the building in the heart of the Karachi financial district, where the State Bank of Pakistan is located, as well as the headquarters of several national and international financial institutions.
Local television stations broadcast images of police in full armor surrounding the building but still outside the walls 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 finished, supplies were found on the bodies of the gunmen, indicating that they may have planned a long siege, which the police quickly foiled.
Inside the stock exchange, broker Yaqub Memon told the Associated Press that he and others were huddled in their offices while the attack was underway. After the shooting ended and the gunmen were killed, the police gathered all the employees and brokers in one room while the security forces went floor by floor to make sure that no explosives had not been left, he said.
Shazia Jehan, a police spokesperson, said that the bomb disposal team had also been called to the stock exchange to clear the building of any explosive device.
Separatist group claims responsibility
The Balochistan Liberation Army later claimed responsibility for the attack. The group has waged an insurgency for years, demanding independence from the gas-rich province of Baluchistan in southwest Pakistan, which borders the southern Sindh province, where Karachi is the provincial capital.
The group also distributed to the media a photograph of four men in full armor and camouflage uniforms, saying that it was the activists who attacked the purse.
Later Monday, at a press conference, Maj. Gen. Omar Ahmed Bokhari, who oversaw the Rangers’ paramilitary force, who participated in the operation, accused neighboring India of helping the attackers , by activating “sleeper cells” which, according to Pakistan, have been held by Pakistan. planted all over the country.
India and Pakistan regularly exchange allegations that militant groups were used to attack the other country. The two nuclear-armed neighbors have fought three wars, including two over the disputed mountainous Himalayan region of Kashmir, which is divided between the two but coveted by both in its entirety.
Responsible for several attacks
The Balochistan Liberation Army, which Pakistan says has found security across the border in Afghanistan, has carried out several attacks in Karachi in recent years, including an attack on the Chinese consulate in November 2018 that killed two people .
General Bokhari said Monday’s attack had the same characteristics as the attack on the Chinese consulate, with the level of coordination and a large stock of ammunition found at the scene.
Police and Pakistani Rangers found more than a dozen hand grenades, boxes of ammunition and several automatic rifles that the attackers had brought to the purse.
The port of Gwadar in the Arabian Sea is located in Balochistan and is part of a unique multi-billion dollar road project connecting South and Central Asia to China. The Balochistan militant group opposed the plan for a road, including a highway connecting the port of Gwadar to the Chinese border.
The Karachi Stock Exchange is the largest and oldest stock exchange in Pakistan, now incorporated with the Islamabad and Lahore stock exchanges.