Four gunmen attacked the Pakistani Stock Exchange building in Karachi on Monday, killing four security guards and a police sub-inspector before being shot dead in an exchange of fire, media reports said.
The militants, who arrived in a car, opened indiscriminate fire and lobbed hand 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. Two civilians were also killed in the attack. SSP City Muqaddas Haider said that seven injured persons had been shifted to a hospital for medical treatment.
Armed with automatic machine guns, hand grenades and other 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.
"They 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.
The police and Rangers' officials arrived at the scene and killed all the four terrorists near the entrance gates, Sindh Rangers said.
Four security guards and a police sub-inspector were killed in the heavy exchange of fire at the PSX compound on Karachi's II Chundrigar Road, also known as Pakistan's Wall Street, the police said. Two civilians were also killed in the attack.
"Explosives, hand grenades and even food supplies were recovered from the bodies of the gunmen, indicating that they had come with a plan for a long siege at the building," said the officer.
President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the attack and said the country is determined to root out terrorism from its soil.
The Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) linked Majeed Brigade claimed responsibility for the attack. It was also behind the Pearl Continental hotel attack in Gwadar last year in which eight people were killed.
A senior official of the Counter-Terrorism Department said that one of the militants was identified as Salman, who hails from the restive Baluchistan province.
DSP Jamil said that none of the terrorists managed to enter the main trading hall or building and that trading did not stop even during the attack.
PSX Managing Director Farrukh Khan said the "number of people in the compound was lower than normal today as many people are still staying home due to the COVID-19".
Sindh's Inspector-General of Police Mushtaq Mahar said the bodies of the attackers have been taken into custody for investigation and forensics. "None of them managed to even get close to the main building. All four were killed at the entrance of the compound which leads to the PSX," he said.
Sindh Police surgeon Dr Qarar Ahmed Abbasi confirmed that seven bodies and seven injured, including policemen, have been brought to Karachi's Civil Hospital.
The firing by militants caused panic among the people in the building.
Some of the traders told television news channels that soon after the firing started, they huddled together in their offices and cabins as they were told to remain indoors.
"We were scared about what would happen if these terrorists managed to enter the building," a trader said.
Senior Police official Sharjeel Kharal said the attackers were armed with automatic weapons and came with a mission to create a hostage situation.
Additional Inspector-General (IG) Sindh Ghulam Nabbi Memon said the attackers exchanged fire with security guards and two of them were killed. The two others terrorists succeeded in entering the gate but were engaged in the compound of the building and were killed. The building and surrounding areas have been sealed and people were evacuated from the back door.
According to some media reports, the attackers were reportedly wearing clothes usually worn by police officials while they are off-duty.
President Alvi, in a statement, said terrorists will never succeed in their nefarious designs.
Prime Minister Khan said the entire nation is proud of the valiant personnel of the security agencies.
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah condemned the attack and said it was "akin to an attack on national security and economy". "Anti-state elements want to take advantage of the virus situation," he said.
Sindh province Governor Imran Ismail condemned the incident.
"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," he said on Twitter.
The attack happened days after three low-intensity terror attacks were carried out in Karachi, Ghotki and Larkana in Sindh, leaving four people including two Rangers soldiers dead and a dozen injured.
In the last major terror attack in Karachi in November 2018, security forces had foiled an attempt by terrorists to storm the Chinese Consulate building in the nearby Clifton area.