Deadly attack on court in Pakistani capital Islamabad

Eyewitness and lawyer Mohammad Bilal describes what he saw

At least 11 people have been killed in an attack at a court in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, officials say.

Gunmen burst into the court complex and opened fire before at least two suicide bombers detonated explosives, at a time of the morning when crowds gather.

A judge and several lawyers are reported to be among those killed and at least 24 people were wounded.

A group called Ahrarul Hind said it carried out the attack - one of the deadliest in the capital for years.

At the scene

As we walked through the alleyways, pools of blood spilled out of different offices where gunmen had indiscriminately opened fire on lawyers and their clients, according to witnesses.

Commandos and paramilitary troops cleared the area, going from room to room looking for victims and assailants.

Shattered glass from broken windows were strewn along the cobblestone alleys. Forensic officers examined the remains of a suicide bomber outside a court where a judge was killed.

The stench of burnt flesh lingered as drizzle began washing away the blood that had collected under the rubble.

It comes after a weekend in which the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) pledged a month-long ceasefire and the government said it would suspend air strikes against militants.

Both are moves aimed at reviving the stalled peace process.

The TTP have denied having anything to do with this attack, but the BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad points out that it sits at the helm of a loose network of territorially independent militant groups who have different agendas. Not all of them will favour peace talks.

However, a spokesman for the little-known Ahrarul Hind group, Asad Mansoor, told BBC Urdu that his group had carried out the attack.

Mansoor said his group was never part of the TTP and hence not part of any ceasefire with the government.

Police officials have described this as a complex attack.

Officials say an unknown number of gunmen, thought to be armed with grenades as well as AK47 assault rifles, stormed the area where judges' chambers and lawyers' offices are located, a convoluted maze of corridors and walkways.

People carry an injured man from the site of a bomb attack at the district court in Islamabad March 3, 2014. The injured were transported to nearby hospitals - at least 24 are thought to have been wounded
Pakistani police commandos search inside lawyers offices looking for attackers following a suicide attack in a court complex, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Monday, March 3, 2014 Police spread through the area of the district court as the shock of this rare attack on Islamabad set in

Islamabad police chief Sikandar Hayat told reporters that two of the attackers blew themselves up when surrounded by police.

Schools evacuated

Pakistani TV showed footage of the area with windows blown out, walls broken and people carrying the dead and wounded from the buildings.

A police officer (L) rescues a woman from the site of a bomb attack at the district court in Islamabad March 3, 2014 Pakistani police officers have been rescuing people from the site of the attack, which happened at a time when the court was crowded with litigants

Policemen with weapons raised were seen running into the area. It is unclear if any of the attackers have been captured by police.

The area has been cordoned off and local schools evacuated.

Correspondents say the attack has shocked many in the city, which has not seen violence on this scale since 2008 when an attack on the Marriott hotel left 40 dead.

Islamabad has largely been spared the militancy that has beset other areas of Pakistan in recent years.

More Asia stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • GeoguessrWhere in the world?

    Think you’re a geography expert? Test your knowledge with BBC Travel’s Geoguessr

Programmes

  • Ebola patients in Sierra LeoneHARDtalk Watch

    Dr Geraldine O'Hara recalls the horrors of working on the Ebola frontline in Sierra Leone

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.