June 30, 2020 / 11:36 AM / 11 days ago

Pakistani PM says 'no doubt' that India was behind stock exchange attack in Karachi

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan told parliament on Tuesday he had no doubt that India was behind an attack on the stock exchange building in the southern city of Karachi.

Army soldier wears protective mask as he stands guard at the entrance of the Pakistan Stock Exchange, a day after an attack in Karachi, Pakistan June 30, 2020. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

Four gunmen armed with grenades attacked the Pakistan Stock Exchange on Monday, killing two guards and a policeman before security forces killed the attackers.

“There is no doubt that India is behind the attack,” Khan said in his address to parliament - a charge that India had denied a day earlier.

Khna offered no evidence for his allegation, but he said there had been intelligence reports warning of attacks in Pakistan and he had informed his cabinet about the threat.

The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), a separatist insurgent group from the southwestern province of Balochistan, claimed responsibility for the attack in a message on Twitter.

Khan said Pakistan’s intelligence agencies had successfully preempted at least four major attacks in the country, two of which targeted Islamabad - but he said it was not possible to stop all such attacks.

The gunmen carried a heavy supply of arms and equipment and security officials believe they planned to storm the stock exchange building and take hostages.

Khan termed their failure to do so and the rapid response by security forces, as a “big victory”.

Separatists have been fighting for years in Balochistan, complaining its mineral wealth is unfairly exploited by Pakistan’s richer, more powerful provinces.

Pakistan has regularly blamed India for supporting Baloch separatists - a charge Delhi has repeatedly continuously denied.

The BLA also took responsibility for an attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi in 2018.

Several projects linked to China’s Belt and Road initiative are in Balochistan.

Reporting by Syed Raza Hasan; Writing by Gibran Peshimam; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Angus MacSwan

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