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Five, including 3 security guards, martyred: Attack on PSX aborted; all 4 terrorists killed

KARACHI: Gunmen armed with hand grenades tried to storm Pakistan Stock Exchange in country's economic hub Karachi,...

June 30, 2020

KARACHI: Gunmen armed with hand grenades tried to storm Pakistan Stock Exchange in country's economic hub Karachi, martyring three security guards, one police sub-inspector and an unidentified civilian before security forces killed all of the attackers.

The attack on PSX has been described as a failed attempt to shatter the investors' confidence in Pakistan as Director General Sindh Rangers Omer Ahmed Bukhari said that hostile forces want to send a message across the globe that Pakistan is not a safe place for investment.

Police said the militants entered the PSX premises in a car. They were carrying advanced weapons, hand grenades and other explosive material; and they attempted to enter the building from its parking ground side.

Failing to reach inside the premises, they launched a gun-grenade attack. The security personnel posted outside the building resisted the assault that ensued in an exchange of fire. All four terrorists were killed before they could reach the trading hall on the ground-floor of the building.

Hours after the attack, Director General Sindh Rangers Omer Ahmed Bukhari along with Karachi Police Chief Ghulam Nabi Memon held a press conference and said the attackers had planned to storm the PSX building for a long assault but two of them were killed at the entrance to the building while the other two were shot dead by security personnel later.

The Rangers, police and security guards of the PSX jointly foiled the attack, he said, adding the attackers wanted to cause harm to Pakistan's economy.

"The terrorists were armed with weapons that included Ak-47s, hand grenades, rocket launchers. They were also carrying food and water," he said. He also said that possibility of the involvement of foreign agencies, particularity India's Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), cannot be ruled out. "Through a tweet, the attack has been attributed to the banned Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA)," Bukhari said, adding a final statement in this regard would only be issued after thorough investigations. Yesterday's attack on PSX and the attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi, which was carried out by BLA militants in 2018, carry certain similarities.

The terrorists were gunned down within just eight minutes. "A joint operation by security agencies started at 10:02am and the attackers were killed by 10:10am," he told reporters.

The situation at PSX came to normalcy within 35 minutes after security forces carried out a clearance operation.

Ghulam Nabi Memon said the terrorists had planned a long assault that included a massive bloodshed and hostage-taking inside the building.

Counter-Terrorism Department's (CTD) Additional Inspector General Dr Jameel said that terrorists, ranging in ages between 25 and 35, entered the PSX premises from its parking area. He said that a fake number plate car, advanced weapons and hand grenades have also been recovered from the assailants who have been identified as Tasleem Baloch, Shahzad Baloch, Salman and Siraj.

Bomb Disposal Squad also reached the scene of the attack and scoured off the site. It also examined a "suspected car" parked outside PSX.

The injured were rushed to the Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi (CKH).

The video footage of the attack possibly shot from a building opposite the PSX complex shows four attackers getting off a silver color corolla car, and then opening fire at security guards.

"In the morning, some armed terrorists tried to attack the Pakistan Stock Exchange building," said Interior Minister Ijaz Ahmed Shah in a video statement. "They tried to enter the building through the parking lot but they were stopped by the security agencies." The masterminds of the attack will be arrested soon, he added.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has condemned the attack. He, in a statement, said courageous security personnel bravely fought the enemy off and foiled this attack. The entire nation is proud of its valiant security men, he added. The PM offered condolence to families of those martyred in the attack and prayed for the recovery of the injured.

DG ISPR quoted the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa in a tweet as saying: "COAS paid glowing tributes to security guards who sacrificed their lives as first responders vigilantly checking terrorist's entry to PSX foiling a major terrorist incident. Appreciating LEAs for their operational readiness, COAS lauded prompt, effective and integrated response of Pak Rangers & Sindh Police, eliminating terrorists in shortest possible time. With support of our resilient nation, we will foil all efforts of enemies aimed at destabilizing hard earned peace achieved through sacrifices of our martyrs."

Sindh Governor Imran Ismail Tweeted, "Strongly condemn the attack on PSX aimed at tarnishing our relentless war on terror. Have instructed the IG & security agencies to ensure that the perpetrators are caught alive & their handlers are accorded exemplary punishments. We shall protect Sindh at all costs."

The Sindh Chief Minister praised the swift action taken by police and Rangers while directing them to stay alert. It was an attack on the country's sovereignty and economy, he said. The CM further added that anti-state elements want benefit from the Covid-19 situation by harming Pakistan. He summoned a detailed inquiry report of the occurrence.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020