Four heavily armed gunmen, believed to be from a banned Baloch group, on Monday made a brazen attempt to take over the Pakistan Stock Exchange building here, killing four security guards and a police officer before being shot dead by security forces.
They arrived in a car and opened indiscriminate fire and lobbed grenades at the main gate of the multi-storey building situated in the city’s high-security commercial hub as they tried to storm it.
Armed with automatic machine guns, grenades and explosives, they tried to enter into the compound leading to the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) building through a parking lot but security forces foiled their attack within the compound itself, Deputy Superintendent of Police (South) Jamil Ahmed said.
“The militants lobbed hand grenades and opened fire initially at the compound entrance to force themselves into the compound but one of them was killed immediately and that pushed them back,” he said.
Director General Rangers Sindh Major-General Omer Ahmed Bokhari, addressing a press conference in Karachi, said the attackers intended to not only enter the building but also carry out violence and hold people hostage.
“Every terrorist was armed with weapons that included AK-47s, hand grenades, rocket launchers. They were also carrying food and water,” he said.
He continued, “The PSX is an important symbol of economic activity hence the objective of these militants was to increase casualties here and hold hostages.”
“It was an attempt to send a message to the world that Pakistan is not safe. They wanted to damage Pakistan’s economic activity and harm investors’ confidence,” DG Rangers said.
The police and Rangers’ officials killed all the four near the entrance gates, he said.
Four security guards, a police sub-inspector and two civilians were killed in the heavy exchange of fire at the PSX compound on Karachi’s I.I. Chundrigar Road, also known as Pakistan’s Wall Street, the police said.
The Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) linked Majeed Brigade claimed responsibility for the attack. The group is banned in Pakistan, the UK and the US. A senior official of the Counter-Terrorism Department said that one of the militants was identified as Salman, who hails from Balochistan.