Gunmen attack Pakitani stock exchange building killing four people

Updated: Jun 30, 2020

Four gunmen attacked the Pakistani stock exchange in Karachi, killing two guards and a policeman and wounding seven others before being shot dead.

Militants from the Baloch Liberation Army say they were behind the attack.

The PSX building is located in Karachi's main corporate district, and several multinational companies and banks are headquartered there.

A video shot by an office worker in a building opposite the PSX showed the four attackers coming out of a car at the security checkpoint and firing at the security guards.

The assailants launched a grenade attack at the main gate to the building and opened fire but police say they failed to make it to the trading floor.

The PSX normally houses more than 2,000 employees of both the exchange and associated trading companies, but was operating with reduced staff due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Staff took refuge in locked rooms and many were evacuated as security forces put an end to the assault.

The director-general of the paramilitary Sindh Rangers force, Omer Ahmed Bukhari, said all the attackers had been killed within eight minutes.

He said the gunmen had brought supplies of food as well as weaponry, suggesting they were prepared for a siege.

Pakistan has suffered years of militant violence, mostly by Islamist groups, but attacks such as this one have become rare in recent years.

Ethnic Baloch separatists have been fighting the Pakistani state for more than a decade, demanding independence for ethnically Baloch areas of Balochistan, Pakistan's largest and least-populated province, which is rich in mineral deposits.

In 2018 its members tried to storm the Chinese consulate in Karachi, killing at least four people. All staff inside the building were unharmed.

Last year the BLA attacked a five-star hotel in the port city of Gwadar in Balochistan. The hotel is the centrepiece of a multi-billion-dollar Chinese project and was selected in order to target Chinese and other investors.

Separatist militants in Balochistan oppose Chinese investment, saying it is of little benefit to local people.

The BLA originally sought political autonomy for the province but has gradually evolved into a violent armed separatist movement and is listed as a terrorist organisation by Pakistan, the UK and the US. Balochistan is a sparsely populated region, and the BLA and other militants have sanctuaries there and in adjoining areas in Pakistan.