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A police officer (L) surveys the site of an attack at the Pakistan Stocks Exchange entrance in Karachi. Image Credit: Reuters

Karachi: At least six people were killed when gunmen attacked the Pakistan Stock Exchange in Karachi on Monday, with a policeman among the dead after the assailants opened fire and hurled a grenade at the trading floor, police said.

The assault was claimed by ethnic Baloch separatists who have hit a string of high-profile targets across the country in recent years, including in the southern port city.

The attackers were armed with grenades and automatic rifles, police said. They launched the attack by opening fire at the entrance of the Pakistan Stock Exchange in the southern port city, the country's financial center.

Rizwan Ahmend, a police official at the scene, said that after opening fire, the gunmen entered the high walled stock exchange grounds. He said the food supplies were found on the bodies of the gunmen, indicating they may have planned a long siege, which police quickly thwarted.

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A policeman guards a car used by alleged gunmen outside the Pakistan Stock Exchange building in Karachi. Image Credit: AFP

Inside the stock exchange, broker Yaqub Memon told The Associated Press that he and others were huddled inside their offices while the attack was underway.

Heavily armed special forces quickly have surrounded the building located in the heart of the city's financial district, where the Pakistan State Bank is located as well as the headquarters of several national and international financial institutions.

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Policemen secure an area around a body outside the Pakistan Stock Exchange building after a group of gunmen attacked the building in Karachi on June 29, 2020. Image Credit: AFP

Local television stations were broadcasting images of police in full body armour surrounding the building but still staying outside the high walled compound of the stock exchange.

Shazia Jehan, a police spokesman, says the bomb disposal squad was also called to the stock exchange and was trying to clear the building of explosive devises. There were no other details and no militant group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Karachi stock exchange is Pakistan's largest and oldest stock exchange, incorporated today with the exchanges in Islamabad and Lahore.

Monday's attack comes more than a week after a grenade was thrown at a line of people waiting outside a government welfare office in the city, killing one and injuring eight others, according to a statement from municipal authorities.

In 2018, separatist militants launched a brazen daylight attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi that killed four people.