ISLAMABAD (Kyodo) — At least seven people were killed as gunmen attacked the Pakistan Stock Exchange in the southern port city of Karachi on Monday morning, local police said.
A list of casualties issued by Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Accident Emergency & Trauma Centre showed that seven dead bodies and nine injured people were brought to the center.
The assailants, armed with AK-47 assault rifles and grenades, entered the stock exchange compound, which is located in a high-security zone in the country’s financial center, at around 10 a.m.
They were quickly engaged by guards and law enforcement personnel who eliminated them within just 8 minutes, according to Maj. Gen. Umer Ahmed Bukhari, chief of the Sindh Rangers, a paramilitary force tasked with local security.
The Baloch Liberation Army, an insurgent group seeking self-determination for people in the country’s restive southwestern province of Balochistan, claimed responsibility for the attack.
In an email sent to media, it said, “Majeed brigade of Baloch Liberation Army today has carried out a self-sacrificing attack on Karachi stock exchange. Our fighters are inside the building.”
The bourse’s director, Abid Ali, told Kyodo News that three of the terrorists were neutralized at the barricades just outside the building, while the fourth was killed inside the building.
Police, however, insisted the militants failed to enter the building.
A local stock broker said around 500 people were inside the building at the time.
Besides the four security guards, a police officer and an investor were among those killed in the attack, the police said.
The same militant group previously mounted a deadly attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi in November 2018 and in May last year attacked a hotel in Gwadar, a port city in Balochistan used by Chinese working on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects.
A major portion of the $50 billion corridor snakes through the restive province where locals are wary of foreigners exploiting its oil and gas resources and where Chinese construction projects have repeatedly come under attack.
The group claimed three attacks on security forces in Balochistan last month.
The Shanghai Stock Exchange has a major stake in the Pakistan Stock Exchange. Some believe that it could be one reason for the group, designated as a terrorist organization by Pakistan, the United States, Britain and the European Union, attacking the bourse.
Bukhari said the style of attack on the stock exchange was very much similar to that on Chinese consulate by the same group.
Ghulam Nabi Memon, a counterterrorism official, said one of the attackers had been identified and he was from Balochistan.