Gunmen have attacked the Pakistani stock exchange killing at least three people and injuring others, according to reports in local media.

The incident, which happened in the southern city of Karachi, saw assailants storm the exchange. 

Latest reports quote police saying officers have killed all four heavily armed gunmen and are combing the area, with militants from the Baloch Liberation Army claiming responsibility for the attack. 

Geo TV, a local media outlet, reported that most people managed to escape or hide in locked rooms. 

Police officers and security officers are among those thought to be seriously injured. 

The attackers were armed with grenades and automatic rifles, police said.

They launched the attack by opening fire at the entrance gate of the Pakistan Stock Exchange in the southern port city, the country’s financial centre.

Pakistan AttackPolice stand at an entrance of the stock exchange building in Karachi, Pakistan (AP Photo)

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

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

Rizwan Ahmend, a police official at the scene, said that after opening fire, the gunmen entered the stock exchange grounds.

He said that after the attack was over, food supplies were found on the bodies of the gunmen, indicating they may have planned a long siege, which police quickly thwarted.

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

Pakistan AttackThe exterior of the stock exchange building in Karachi (AP Photo)

As the firing ended and the gunmen were killed, police gathered all the employees and brokers in a single room while security forces went floor by floor to ensure that no explosives had been left behind, he said.

Shazia Jehan, a police spokesman, said the bomb disposal team was also called to the stock exchange to clear the building of any explosive devices.

Later, the Baluchistan Liberation Army, claimed responsibility for the attack.

The group has been demanding independence for Pakistan’s gas-rich south-western Baluchistan province, which borders the southern Sindh province, where Karachi is the provincial capital.

The group also circulated to the media a photograph of four men in full body armour and camouflage outfits, saying they were the militants who attacked the stock exchange.

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

The Baluchistan Liberation Army has carried out a series of attacks in Karachi in recent years, including an attack on the Chinese Consulate in November 2018 that killed two people.

The Arabian Sea port of Gwadar is located in Baluchistan, and is part of China’s multibillion-dollar one-road project linking south and Central Asia to China.

The Baluchistan militant group has opposed the one-road project including a road connecting the Gwadar port to the Chinese border.