Smoke bellowing from the Chinese Consulate in Karachi

Firing and small explosions were heard near the Chinese Consulate here on Friday

KARACHI: At least two policemen have been killed when unidentified gunmen stormed the Chinese consulate in the Pakistani port city of Karachi, officials said.

Several gunmen tried to enter the consulate but were intercepted by security guards at a checkpoint, senior local police official Javaid Alam Odho told AFP.

An exchange of fire resulted “killing two of our constables and critically wounding another”, he said.

Authorities said three suspected suicide bombers were killed before they were able to enter the facility. Police said they used a car bomb in the attack.

The Baluchistan Liberation Army claimed responsibility. “There were three suicide attackers,” spokesman Jiand Baloch said.

“They stormed the Chinese embassy in Karachi. China is exploiting our resources.”

The BLA is just one of the militant groups operating in Baluchistan, Pakistan’s largest and poorest province, which is rife with ethnic, sectarian and separatist insurgencies.

Authorities initially said the attackers first opened fire at consulate guards and then managed to breach the main gate and enter the building.

“Two attackers have entered the visa section of the consulate, diplomats are safe,” a senior police officer told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Seemin Jamali, a doctor at the Jinnah Hospital in Karachi, said: “We have two cops brought dead and security guard injured due to blast impact.”

Footage taken at the scene showed smoke rising from the building and shots ringing out. Several other media reported gunfire by the consulate.

Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city and a financial hub, was for years rife with political, sectarian and ethnic militancy.

A crackdown in the city by security forces in recent years has brought a lull in violence, but scattered attacks still take place.

China, one of Pakistan’s closest allies, has poured billions into the South Asian country in recent years as part of a massive infrastructure project that seeks to connect its western province Xinjiang with the Arabian Sea.

The Chinese consulate is located in the affluent Clifton neighbourhood, along with those of several other nations.