Pakistan Stock Exchange Attack Leaves Several Dead

Pakistan Stock Exchange Attack Leaves Several Dead

Pakistan Stock Exchange Attack Leaves Several Dead

Pakistan Stock Exchange Attack Leaves Several Dead

Separatist gunmen tried to storm Pakistan’s stock exchange in the city of Karachi on Monday, killing three security officers and hurting several people before security officers shot the attackers, officials said.

Officials reported that four gunmen drove up to the gate in front of the exchange, and that two managed to enter the parking area before all four were killed in a firefight with security forces. The police initially said that the attackers had killed four security officers, but later revised the total to three.

Employees took shelter inside the exchange during the shooting, which lasted for almost an hour, but the gunmen were never able to enter the trading building, the police said.

Faisal Memon, an employee of a private brokerage whose office is on the third floor in the exchange building, said that heavy firing broke out around 10 a.m., just after trading opened at 9:30.

“As soon as the firing started, we closed the doors of our office. It was terrifying,” Mr. Memon said. “Thank God that a smaller number of people are coming to the building these days because of coronavirus.”

In social media posts credited to the Baluchistan Liberation Army, the separatist group claimed responsibility for the attack.

The B.L.A. is an ethnic Baluch insurgent group in Baluchistan Province, a resource-rich region of Pakistan that has been racked by violence for years. Efforts by the Pakistani security forces to put down the insurgency have led to disappearances and widespread accusations of abuses. The B.L.A. and other separatist groups have often targeted civilians as well, leaving many in Baluchistan caught between ruthless forces.

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.

Maj. Gen. Omer Ahmed Bokhari, the director general of the Sindh Rangers paramilitary force, said in a news conference that the stock exchange had symbolic value for the attackers. “The objective could be to hit the icon of Pakistan’s economy and economic activity,” he said.

He said that the security force at the stock exchange did well to hold off the attackers, who the police said were armed with hand grenades, assault rifles and copious ammunition.

“These four attackers aimed to enter the building, and not only to kill but to create a hostage situation,” General Bokhari said. He said that along with being heavily armed, the attackers also brought food and water supplies, suggesting that they had prepared for a long standoff.

Pakistani officials have long accused India of supporting the B.L.A. as a proxy group, and that accusation was leveled again after the attack on the stock exchange.

“The enemy has attacked from the rear, trying to capitalize on our vulnerabilities,” Shahzad Chaudhry, a former air vice marshal of the Pakistan Air Force and a defense analyst, said in an interview.

“B.L.A. has a long history of violence and unhappiness with the Pakistani state,” he said. “They have adopted a terrorism-oriented way rather than a genuine struggle for rights.”

Zia ur-Rehman contributed reporting.


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