Islamic militants clad head-to-toe in women's burqas attempted to attack an oil-storage facility in Karachi, raising fears that insurgents are fleeing northwestern Pakistan and infiltrating the nation's main business hub.
Three gunmen disguised as women tried to enter the high-security terminal used by oil companies late Monday night, Waseem Ahmed, the city police chief, told Pakistani television on Tuesday. Police say they suspect the assailants disguised themselves as women to try to slip past security checkpoints.
When stopped by security guards, the militants opened fire, killing one guard. The assailants fled during a gun battle, leaving behind the burqas, purses and hand grenades.
"We suspect they wanted to carry out a big terrorist attack which our prompt police action thwarted," said Mr. Ahmed in an interview with Geo TV Pakistan.
Pakistan imports foreign oil through the Karachi port, and stores it there before transporting it throughout the country. An attack on the port facility could have threatened the fuel supply for the country's industry and transport, just as Pakistan's economy is struggling to recover from the global downturn and security woes at home.
Later Tuesday, police arrested four men suspected of involvement in the attack. During a raid on a house in Karachi, where the arrests took place, police found additional burqas, women's handbags and weapons, Mr. Ahmed said in the television interview.
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