The attackers arrived in a car at the stock exchange gates at around 10am on Monday armed with rifles, explosives and hand grenades, and began firing shots and hurling explosives at the security guards at the entrance.
The building is in a high-security zone and houses the Pakistan state bank as well the headquarters of national and international financial institutions.
Special forces surrounded the compound and the attackers were killed. Seven people were injured in the incident.
Faisal Edhi, who runs the Edhi Foundation who operate ambulance services across the country, witnessed the attack from his offices located opposite the stock exchange. “The gunfire began around 10am,” he said. “For around 30 mins we could hear non-stop firing from both sides when guards in the building retaliated and stopped the entry of the attackers. They were killed before they could enter into the main building.”
Inside the stock exchange, Yaqub Memon, a broker, said he and others were huddled inside their offices and could hear the firing.
Rizwan Ahmend, a police officer at the scene, said food supplies were found on the bodies of the gunmen, indicating they may have planned a long siege. A bomb disposal squad swept the building for any explosives.
The Baloch Liberation Army, a separatist militant group from the neighbouring province of Balochistan, claimed responsibility for the attack.
Imran Ismail, the governor of Sindh province, tweeted: “Strongly condemn the attack on [the stock exchange] aimed at tarnishing our relentless war on terror. Have instructed … security agencies to ensure that the perpetrators are caught alive and their handlers are accorded exemplary punishments. We shall protect Sindh at all costs.”
The Karachi stock exchange is Pakistan’s largest and oldest stock exchange. Usually there are more than 6,000 employees working in the compound, but on Monday it was relatively empty as people have been working from home owing to the coronavirus pandemic.