Stock Exchange Building karachi Pakistan security forces
Security personnel surround the Stock Exchange Building after an attack by gunmen in Karachi, Pakistan, Monday, June 29, 2020. Special police forces deployed to the scene of the attack and in a swift operation secured the building. Image Credit: AP

Islamabad: Pakistan’s social media space was buzzing with gratitude for young police officers who averted the carnage by shooting all terrorists within eight minutes of the attack on the Karachi Stock Exchange on Monday. At least three guards and a policeman lost their lives before the security forces killed all four attackers, officials said. However, police said there could have been more causalities if the law enforcement agencies (LEA) had not reacted promptly since there were at least 1,000 people inside the building. Police recovered automatic rifles, hand grenades and explosive material from the terrorists.

Gratitude to security guards and police

Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) Chairman Sulaiman S. Mehdi was full of praise for the security guards who deterred terrorists outside the building until police arrived. He lauded the services of security guards and appreciated the response of police and security forces which he said “was unbelievable”, adding that “trading didn’t close even for a minute” due to the impeccable police action.

“Heroes who saved the day”

The swift action by Sindh Police’s Rapid Response Force (RRF) that reduced the number of casualties was widely hailed on social media. Hundreds of people shared photos of the two young police officers, Constable Muhammad Rafiq and Constable Khalil, calling them the “real heroes” who “averted bloodbath.”

The photos were first shared by a police officer Farhan Khan with this message: “Salute to police and rangers for foiling the terrorist attack on #KarachiStockExchange”

Talking to Gulf News, Dr Fereeha Idrees, a TV journalist with AbbTakk, said, “Tactical operations need brisk planning and quick thinking. Pakistani security forces demonstrated both by taking timely action to thwart an attack by the enemy right at Pakistan’s heart.” The ammunition proves that it was a meticulous plan to destroy Karachi stock exchange, she said. “Salute to the brave men that they conducted an operation while the business activity never halted.”

“Pakistani law enforcement agencies proved today that they’re prepared to counter any terrorist attack” said a journalist Mubashir Zaidi.

A Twitter user, Farhan, who identified himself as the one whose office is at the stock exchange building said: “I can not even begin to thank the PSX guards and Sindh Police and Rangers who confronted and neutralized [the attackers].” Offered condolences to the families of the fallen heroes “who laid their lives but saved so many”, he called for “more funding for police” and for those “who put their lives in danger for the safety of others”.

Sharing the photos of two brave officers, Khalid Farooq, former head of national counter terrorism authority remarked: These are “the faces of valour, the eyes of courage, the smile of triumph.”

The video of Constable Rafiq in which he narrated how he shot two terrorists, one before he could pull the grenade’s pin, also went viral online.

Some videos shared on social media showed locals cheering the speedy response by LEAs. “Public in Karachi outside the site of BLA terrorist attack cheer on Pakistan’s security forces. Salute to them, our police and armed forces” wrote Ashar Jawad.

Officials hail the swift response and “prompt action”

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah lauded the “prompt action” by police and rangers and directed all law enforcement agencies to be more vigilant. Meanwhile, Inspector General of Police Sindh Mushtaq Ahmed announced a reward of Rs2 million for the police team involved in the operation.

It took the security forces eight minutes to eliminate the terrorists and offices returned to normal within half an hour of the attack, said Sindh Rangers Director General Omer Ahmed Bukhari. He said that it was due to the prompt response of security forces’ that the militants “could not achieve any of their motives” including a long assault, bloodshed and keeping hostages.

Karachi police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon also lauded the efficient and timely action of the police forces. “We were prepared when they [terrorists] came” and responded effectively. It was after one-and-a-half years that the city witnessed such a brazen attack after 2018 attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi, also carried out by BLA. “The attack is the result of the frustration of terror networks that the police is continuously demolishing with coordination of different LEAs.”