Post-Incident Report: Karachi Stock Exchange Attack
A post-incident report providing a brief yet informative insight into what happened during the attack on the Karachi Stock Exchange in Pakistan on the 29th June 2020.
Early on Monday 29th June, four gunmen affiliated with the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) carried out an armed attack at the Karachi Stock Exchange. The gunmen are believed to have intended to storm the building and then held out in a prolonged siege (as large amounts of ammunition and supplies were found in their possession.) However, they were killed during a shootout with guards at an entrance on Kattyan Road, alongside the stock exchange building. Three security guards and a police officer were killed during the firefight, as well as the four attackers.
Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA)
The BLA is a separatist group which operates in the Balochistan Region of Pakistan and has fought a violent campaign demanding self-determination for Baloch people. The group frequently targets security forces as well as foreign assets, particularly Chinese assets. Targets have included labourers working in Chinese-backed projects, mining staff and Chinese business assets.
The group has carried out a similar high-profile attack in Karachi before, as in 2018, BLA militants attempted to attack the Chinese Consulate in Karachi. A separate incident saw the group carry out an attack an at a hotel in Gwadar often used by visiting Chinese business officials. The stock exchange is believed to have been targeted in response to a sale of Pakistan Stock Exchange shares in late 2016-early 2017 to a Chinese consortium. 40% of the stock exchange’s shares were sold, significantly increasing Chinese influence.
The four attackers were part of the BLA’s Majeed Brigade, which is considered an elite part of the BLA and carries out suicide attacks. The Majeed Group is named after Abdul Majeed Baloch, who was a security guard who attempted to assassinate former Pakistani PM Zulfiqar Bhutto.
The BLA also operates in Afghanistan where the security situation is volatile and conducive to hosting militants in remote border areas and in Kandahar City. The day before the Karachi attack, a BLA compound was allegedly targeted by a VBIED in Afghanistan’s Kandahar City. It is not clear if there was any link between the Karachi and the Kandahar incidents.