Investigators probing Monday’s attack on the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) by a proscribed nationalist group of Balochistan suspect that Bashir Zeb, the brother of Aslam Achchu, the mastermind of the Chinese consulate attack in Karachi in 2018, could be the mastermind of the Stock Exchange attack in Karachi.
The terrorist attack on the PSX was foiled when law enforcers killed all the four terrorists in just eight minutes. A police officer and three security guards were martyred in the incident.
The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) has carried out two major botched terrorist attacks in Karachi within a span of around one-and-a-half-years. Earlier, the group had launched a similar attack on the Chinese consulate in November 2018.
“BLA commander Aslam alias Achchu was the mastermind of the Chinese consulate attack, who was killed in Afghanistan by security forces a month after the Chinese consulate attack,” a source said on Tuesday. “Now after the Achchu’s death, his brother Bashir Zeb is in the driving seat of the BLA and was the mastermind of the recent attack on the PSX.”
“Bashir Zeb has taken over the command of all BLA operations since the killing of his brother, Aslam Achchu,” senior counterterrorism officer Raja Umer Khattab said while talking to The News. “Apart from RAW, a foreign spy agency could have been behind the attack as their [attackers’] uniforms also suggested it.”
Aslam Achchu was injured during an attack on his residence in Kandahar when a meeting of terrorists was underway. He was shifted to hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. Achchu was wanted for many heinous crimes, including the attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi, and he had been carrying out terror activities in Pakistan from Afghan soil.
Nato supply weapons
The investigators also believed that the attackers were using the latest firearms, including the Nato supply weapons, during the attack as 40 Russian rifle grenades, one rifle, 25 Russian and American hand grenades, four sub-machineguns, 26 packs of sub-machinegun bullets and 12 empty boxes of two types of grenades were recovered from their possession.
Apart from the weapons, security officials also found three bottles of petrol, six shoulder bags and two cell phones at the scene.
When contacted, Additional IG Counter-Terrorism Department Dr Jamil Ahmed said foreign weapons which were particularly used in Afghanistan had been used in the PSX attack. He said the terrorists used the Lyari Expressway to reach the PSX and purchased a car from Karachi six days ago.
The route to PSX
It has been learnt that the attackers used the Lyari Expressway to reach the Pakistan Stock Exchange and wanted to cause massive bloodshed while entering the building, but luckily they failed.
It has also been learnt that the attackers drove onto the Lyari Expressway from the Gharibabad interchange and came to the Mauripur interchange.
The terrorists did so to avoid checking by security forces in the city. Investigators said the terrorists wanted to enter the PSX with their car. At first, the investigators said, two attackers attempted to lift the barrier placed at the entrance to the PSX. The investigators have obtained the CCTV footage of the route the terrorists had taken, especially from the Gharibabad area to the PSX, and have also conducted geo-fencing.
CTD lodges case
A day after the botched attack on the PSX, the Counter Terrorism Department of the Sindh police registered a case (No. 79/20) at CTD Civil Lines on behalf of Mithadar SHO Rizwan Patel.
Police have included the provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act, the Explosives Act, murder and other offences in the FIR. In the case, the serial numbers of the sub-machineguns found on the terrorists have also been registered while two mobile phones seized from the Stock Exchange premises, one an Android phone and the other a simple one, have been mentioned in the FIR.
Car bought from city
The terrorists purchased the car they had drive to the PSX from a showroom on Khalid Bin Waleed Road about six days ago. The car was purchased with cash by Salman Hamal. The showroom owner had refused to sell the car without transferring it. Upon his refusal, Salman Hamal gave the owner a copy of his CNIC and then purchased a car.
Sources said that the logistical support was provided to the attackers in Karachi. The investigators suspected that the attackers wanted to hold the employees of the PSX hostage at gunpoint after entering the building.
Corps commander’s visit
Corps Commander Karachi Lt-Gen Humayun Aziz visited the Pakistan Stock Exchange on Tuesday. He was accompanied by DG Rangers Sindh Major General Umar Bukhari on the occasion.
Strict security arrangements were made around the PSX during the corps commander’s visit. The corps commander met officials of the Pakistan Stock Exchange and discussed with them Monday’s incident.
The funeral prayers of two of the three security guards who lost his life in the attack were offered on Tuesday. The security guards belonging to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Iftikhar Waheed and Khudayar, were laid to rest in Karachi.
According to security company officials, Khudayar was laid to rest in Baldia Town while Iftikhar was buried in Orangi Town. A large number of people attended the funeral prayers. However, unfortunately, no official from the law enforcement agencies or government participated in the funeral prayers.
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