As the pace of Pakistan’s coronavirus outbreak continues to quicken, infuriating the country’s leadership as India’s out-of-control outbreak increasingly seeps across the border, a gang of separatist militants have just carried out one of the most memorable terror attacks in Pakistan in recent memory.
According to the AP, a gang of four militants from a separatist group called the Baluchistan Liberation Army attacked the stock exchange in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi on Monday, killing at least three people, including two guards and a police officer. The attack began when the men walked up to the gate in front of the exchange and fired on the guards. It’s unclear whether they gained access to the building, but all four assailants were swiftly killed during the police response. No brokers or employees at the exchange were wounded.
Inside the stock exchange, broker Yaqub Memon described what the attack was like. He said he and most of the employees hid inside during the attack, until the assailants were killed. After the attack ended, all the brokers and employees were moved to a single secured room while police swept the building for bombs. Shazia Jehan, a police spokesman, sad a bomb unit swept and cleared the building.
Images of police surrounding the high-walled stock exchange compound proliferated on social media. Karachi is known as Pakistan’s financial center, and its stock exchange is owned by the same company that owns the exchanges in Islamabad and Lahore.
The separatist group, the Baluchistan Liberation Army, was previously best known for an attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi back in November 2018 that killed two people. Pakistan’s natural gas-rich Baluchistan province borders Afghanistan and Iran, as well as the Pakistani province of Sindh, where Karachi serves as the capital.
One issue that has reinvigorated the group in recent years is the Chinese multi-billion-dollar project at the port in Gwadar, a prot on the Arabian Sea that is located in Baluchistan. The Baluchistan militant group has opposed China’s BRI initiative, which in addition to reviving the port is building a new project to connect the Gwadar port to the Chinese border.
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