5 security personnel embrace martyrdom: BLA claims responsibility for attack
Four heavily armed gunmen attempted to storm Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) in the country’s port city of Karachi on Monday, killing three guards and a police sub-inspector while wounding several others before being shot dead by security personnel.
According to police, four terrorists, armed with automatic rifles, hand grenades, copious ammunition and explosives, drove up to the gate in front of the PSX and two of them managed to enter the parking area before all of them were gunned down in a firefight with security forces.
“The gunmen hurled grenades at the main gate of the building before opening indiscriminate fire to clear their way but they failed to enter the building,” police said adding that the staff inside took refuge in locked rooms and many were evacuated.
“The attackers came in a car and were stopped by police at the gate outside where the exchange of fire took place,” said Ghulam Nabi Memon, Additional Inspector General of Sindh Police. Witnesses working inside the PSX building said that they heard heavy gunfire and explosions when the attackers entered the complex.
“We were all terrified,” said Abid Ali Habib, PSX’s director. “There was gunfire and suddenly everyone was rushing to the windows to see what was happening. As the firing was close by, everyone was scared and we closed our outside doors,” Habib said. Video footage of the attack showed that four assailants stepped out from a car, took up positions at a security barrier to the building and started firing at the security guards.
Omer Ahmed Bukhari, Director General of Sindh Rangers, said at a presser that the terrorists were eliminated within eight minutes. “The attackers arrived at the scene in a car at 10:02am and they were shot dead by security forces by 10:10am,” he claimed. Following killing of the terrorists, Bukhari said, security personnel completed the clearance operation within 30-35 minutes.
“The terrorists had planned a long assault that included bloodshed and holding people hostage inside the building. All the attackers were equipped with AK47s, hand grenades, food and water supplies, suggesting that they had prepared for a long siege,” he said. In social media posts, the Baluch Liberation Army (BLA), an ethnic Baluch militant group, took responsibility for the attack.
“Majeed brigade of Baluch Liberation Army has carried out a self-sacrificing attack on Karachi stock exchange today,” the group claimed.
In recent years, the group has targeted Chinese interests in Baluchistan, which is a center for huge development projects that are part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Separatist militants in Baluchistan oppose Chinese investment, saying it is of little benefit to local people.
Pakistani officials have long accused India of supporting Baluch separatists and the accusation was leveled again after the PSX attack. The DG Sindh Rangers said that possibility of the involvement of foreign agencies, especially India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), cannot be ruled out. “Such attacks are not “stand-alone incidents” and cannot take place without support of outside intelligence agencies,” Bukhari told media.
“Straightaway, I can assure you that this terrorist incident could not have taken place without the help of an outside agency. And among them, RAW’s frustration is apparent to all of you,” he added.
In a series of tweets, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Special Assistant on National Security Dr Moeed Yusuf also pointed at forces, aiming to destabilize Pakistan. “Make no mistake, today’s attack in Karachi is state-sponsored terrorism against Pakistan,” he wrote, urging the world “to wake up to suicidal tendencies of this destabilising actor that is finding distractions to overcome its own failures and embarrassment”.
“Our warnings have come true repeatedly. Whether on demographic re-engineering in #Kashmir or sponsored terrorism against Pakistan,” he said in a veiled reference to India.
In yet another tweet, Yusuf called upon the international community to “publicly call out and condemn countries” that perpetrate terrorism against Pakistan.
“There is an established link between BLA, an international listed terror organisation, and India, a state led by a fascist government that has again perpetrated terrorism in Pakistan through its proxies,” he posted.
The PSX Karachi, Pakistan’s biggest stock exchange, has offices for hundreds of financial institutions and is situated in the city’s high security zone along with head offices of banks and other businesses.
Several thousand people work at it during normal days but numbers are down these days because of home working due to Covid-19 pandemic.