KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) – Militants attacked the fair in the Pakistani city of Karachi on Monday, killing at least three people – two security guards and a police officer, according to police. Special police units deployed to the scene of the attack, which quickly secured the building, killed all four shooters.
The attackers were armed with grenades and automatic rifles, police said. They launched the attack by opening fire at the gateway to the Pakistani stock exchange in the southern port city, the country’s financial center.
Heavily armed special forces quickly surrounded the building in the heart of Karachi’s financial district, which is home to Pakistan’s State Bank, as well as the headquarters of several national and international financial institutions.
Local television stations broadcast images of the police in full body armor around the building, but still remain outside the high walls of the fair.
Rizwan Ahmend, an on-site police officer, said the gunmen entered the fairgrounds after opening the fire. He said that after the attack was over, food supplies were found on the shooters’ bodies, indicating that they may have planned a long siege, which the police quickly foiled.
Inside the fair, broker Yaqub Memon told The Associated Press that he and others were huddled in their offices while the attack was underway. When the shooting ended and the shooters were killed, police gathered all workers and agents into a single room, while security forces went floor by floor to ensure that no explosives were left behind, he said.
Police spokesman Shazia Jehan said the bomb removal team had also been called to the fair to clean up the construction of explosive devices.
Later, the Baluchistan Liberation Army claimed responsibility for the attack. The group has been committed to urgency for years and demands independence from Pakistan’s gas-rich southwestern Baluchistan province, which borders the southern province of Sindh, where Karachi is the provincial capital.
The Karachi stock exchange is the largest and oldest stock exchange in Pakistan and is now included in the exchanges in Islamabad and Lahore.
The Baluchistan Liberation Army, which Pakistan believes has been found safe across the border in Afghanistan, has launched a series of attacks in Karachi in recent years, including an attack on the Chinese consulate that killed two people.
Gwadar’s Arabian Sea port is located in Baluchistan and is part of China’s multi-billion dollar one-way project connecting South and Central Asia to China. The militant group of Baluchistan opposed the one-way project, including a highway connecting Gwadar port to the Chinese border.
Associated Press writer Kathy Gannon in Islamabad contributed to this report.
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