Asia

Deadly attack on court in Pakistani capital Islamabad

  • 3 March 2014
  • From the section Asia

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.

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.

The injured were transported to nearby hospitals - at least 24 are thought to have been wounded
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.

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.