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Terror attack at PSX foiled in swift operation

Top Story

June 30, 2020

Terror attack at PSX foiled in swift operation

KARACHI: The law-enforcement agencies, including the Rapid Response Force (RRF) of Sindh Police, foiled a terrorist attack on the busy Pakistan Stock Exchange in Karachi on Monday morning by killing all the four terrorists of a banned outfit. The LEAs managed to finish off all the terrorists within eight minutes.

Unfortunately in the attack, Sub Inspector (SI) Muhammed Shahid and three security guards Iftekhar Waheed, Hassan and Khuda Yar of a private company were also martyred, while eight others, including some civilians, sustained injuries.

According to the police, on Monday morning, at around 10am, four armed terrorists appeared in a Toyota Corolla car at the main entrance of the PSE situated on the I I Chundrigar Road. Immediately afterwards, the terrorists opened indiscriminate fire at the entrance due to which SI Muhammad Shahid and two security guardssustained injuries. But soon afterwards, the personnel of the RRF immediately responded, with other law enforcers, including the Sindh Rangers. They engaged the terrorists, who were trying to enter from the parking ground side, at the main entrance of the PSE.

The militants had backpacks, besides automatic weaponry in an amateur video captured by an eyewitness. The equipment, arms and ammunition in the possession of terrorists indicated that they had come prepared for a long siege. After failing to enter the compound, the militants launched a gun and grenade attack and attempted to storm the building, once again opening indiscriminate fire. Nevertheless, they were engaged by the law enforcers posted there and failed to make any headway amidst the heavy exchange of fire.

As a result, all the four terrorists were killed near the entrance gates, before they could enter the building. During the gunbattle with the terrorists, SI Shahid and two security guards, Iftekhar Waheed and Khuda Yar, were martyred, while seven others, including two civilians, were injured. They were moved to local hospitals of Karachi.

Later, the personnel of the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) Sindh and the forensic division also reached the spot and collected evidence and material for further investigations.

The entire locality was cordoned off by the security forces and a search and clear operation was launched. The PSE was evacuated and the car that the militants had arrived in was impounded.

Talking to the media, Transnational Terrorists Intelligence Group (TTIG) In-charge Raja Umer Khattab said the car under the use of the terrorists belonged to Salman, who was among the terrorists killed in the action. However, he said, they were checking the details of the killed terrorists, including their facilitators, as the investigation into the attack were in its initial stage.

He said that a subnationalist group of Balochistan was behind the failed attack on the Pakistan Stock Exchange in Karachi while the Indian spy agency RAW was the mastermind of the attack. “Basically, RAW is the mastermind of both, the Chinese Consulate and PSE attacks,” explained senior counter-terrorism expert Raja Umer Khattab while talking to The News.

Additional IGP Karachi Ghulam Nabi Memon expressed his appreciation for the LEAs. He said that due to intelligence reports, they had already upgraded the security at the installations that were under threat and the Monday’s attack at the PSE was part of the same intelligence information.

To avert any possible terrorist attack, he said, they had upgraded the security at the PSE due to which the police successfully foiled the attempt within eight minutes and killed all the four terrorists. Moreover, he added, they had also found weapons, including AK-47, hand grenades, along with food items on the killed terrorists.

Memon said Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mushtaq Ahmed Mehar had also appreciated the efforts made by the police officials and announced a reward of Rs2 million for police personnel.

According to media reports, the killed terrorists were associated with the banned Baloch Liberation Army (BLA). Mehar said they would confirm the involvement of the group after submission of report by the investigating department.

Later in the day, the funeral prayers of police SI Muhammad Shahid were offered at the Police Headquarter Garden which was attended by senior police officials, including the Sindh Police chief.

The martyred security guards, Iftekhar Waheed and Khuda Yar, were posted at the PSE and were associated with two different security companies. Both the martyred guards hailed from Dir, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said the secuiry company’s Chief Operating Officer Col (retd) Mohsin. He said Iftekhar Waheed sustained a bullet wound to his head which resulted in his death, while Khuda Yar sustained six bullet wounds. Moreover, Iftekhar was performing duty at the PSE since 2016, while Khuda Yar was posted there since 2014. Later, another security guard Hasan also died.

Afterwards, DG Rangers Sindh Major General Omer Ahmed Bokhari held a media briefing along with Karachi Police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon at the Jinnah Courts, Rangers Headquarters.

The DG Rangers said the four militants had intended to not only enter the building but also to carry out violence and to hold people hostage. “Every terrorist was armed with weapons that included Ak-47s and hand grenades. They were also carrying food and water,” he said.

Speaking about the entire operation, Maj-Gen Bokhari said the four attackers were killed within eight minutes. He said they carried out the attack at 10:02am and were gunned down at 10:10am. “It was a combined effort from Rangers, police and the PSE security guards,” he said, adding that the entire building was cleared within 25 minutes so that the routine activity of the Pakistan Stock Exchange was not affected.

He said the PSE is an important symbol of the country’s economic activity and that the objective of these militants was to make people hostage and kill them. “It was an attempt to send a message to the world that Pakistan is not safe. They wanted to damage Pakistan's economic activity and harm investors' confidence.”

The DG Rangers said the authorities would probe the attack thoroughly. He continued: “We are aware of who is doing what and forming which nexus. You will see we will reach the depth of this and shrink the militants’ space further.”

Responding to a question, the DG Rangers said it was easy to call everything an intelligence failure. “Karachi is a large city and it isn't as easy, as four people sitting in a car and carrying out militant activities everywhere. People should appreciate how these four terrorists had been eliminated within eight minutes. Our response was in place and they could not fulfill any of their objectives.”

The DG Rangers said the PSE attack was similar to the attack on the Chinese Consulate in Karachi a year-and-a-half ago. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday “saluted the brave police and security personnel for having thwarted the condemnable terrorist attack in Karachi on the Pakistan Stock Exchange”.

The prime minister said in a tweet, “I salute our brave police and security personnel who thwarted the condemnable terrorist attack in Karachi on the Pakistan Stock Exchange”.

Meanwhile, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa paid glowing tributes to security guards of Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX), who sacrificed their lives as first responders vigilantly checking the terrorists’ entry into the PSX, foiling a major terrorist incident. Appreciating Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) for their operational readiness, the COAS lauded prompt, effective and integrated response of Pakistan Rangers and Sindh Police, eliminating terrorists in shortest possible time. “With the support of our resilient nation, we will foil all efforts of enemies aimed at destabilizing the hard-earned peace achieved through sacrifices of our martyrs,” the COAS said.

Chairman Pakistan People’s Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Monday made a phone call to IGP Sindh Police Mushtaq Mehar and lauded the Sindh Police on foiling the terrorist bid to takeover the Pakistan Stock Exchange in the gun and grenade attack and conveyed ‘well done’ message to personnel of Sindh Police for their timely response to thwart the terrorist attack.