Four gunmen have broken into shots at the start of the session on Monday at the Karachi Stock Exchange, the largest in Pakistan. The assailants, carrying automatic rifles and hand grenades, have killed two security guards and a police officer and wounded seven more people before they were shot. The action, which has not stopped the operations of the stock market, has been responsible for the Baluche Liberation Army, a separatist group from the neighboring province of Baluchistan.
The attackers arrived at the PSX headquarters, as the Karachi Stock Exchange is known, shortly before ten in the morning (three hours less in mainland Spain), threw a grenade from the entrance and shot their way out before security forces to arrive, according to a police statement echoed by the Pakistani media. The terrorists also carried plenty of food in their backpacks, which seems to indicate that they planned to take over the parquet.
“The Baluche Liberation Army Majeed Brigade has carried out a sacrificial attack against the Karachi stock market. Our fighters are inside the building and have taken control of the area, ”said the insurgent group on Twitter while the police operation was still underway. Your account has been suspended shortly after. Authorities have not reacted to the announcement.
Although it is not possible to establish the authenticity of that claim, the BLA (as the group is known by its English initials) has spent decades fighting for the independence of Baluchistan, the largest and least developed of the four provinces of Pakistan. Although it was formally founded in 2000, its roots stem from the Baluche ethno-nationalist insurgency of the 1970s and is considered heir to the Movement for an Independent Balochistan. Separatists have always complained about the exploitation of their region, rich in mineral resources and gas, by the rest of the country.
“There is no doubt that it was a terrorist attack and I want to thank the security guards who have died on duty (…) and have prevented the terrorists from entering until the arrival of the police,” said the committee chairman. of the PSX, Sulaiman S. Mehdi, quoted by the newspaper Dawn. Mehdi, who has not identified those responsible, has also assured that “the Exchange has not closed for a minute.” Its main index, the KSE-100, initially fell 220 points, but then recovered and at the close was above the pre-opening price.
The Majeed Brigade that is now blamed for the attack also claimed responsibility for the attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi in 2018. The Peking Government has several infrastructure projects in Baluchistan linked to its Belt and Road initiative, something like a modern route silk. In the past, Karachi, the capital of Sindh province and the largest city in Pakistan, has also been the target of anger by Islamic extremists, but in recent years these have been reduced as the Army intervened against the fiefdoms of various groups on the border with Afghanistan.
Both television channels and social networks have broadcast videos recorded by some witnesses showing the scenes of panic and initial chaos. In addition to the stock market personnel, employees of investment agencies work in the Stock Exchange complex, although due to the pandemic their number was smaller than usual.