A policeman cordons off the site of a bomb attack at the district court in Islamabad, March 3. — Photo by Reuters
Policemen inspect a local court building after a gun and bomb attack in Islamabad, March 3. — AFP
A lawyer talks on his mobile phone at the site of a bomb attack in a court complex in Islamabad, March 3. — AP
People mourn over the death of their relative, a victim of a bombing, outside the morgue of a local hospital in Islamabad, March 3. — AP
Policemen collect evidence from the site of a bomb attack at the district court in Islamabad, March 3. — Photo by Reuters
Police officers comb the area for attackers at the site of a bomb attack at the district court in Islamabad, March 3. — Reuters
ISLAMABAD: At least 11 people, including additional sessions judge Rafaqat Awan, were killed and 29 others wounded on Monday during a gun and bomb attack in a court in the capital city’s F-8 area, DawnNews reported.
Asad Mansoor, a spokesperson for the Ahrarul Hind which is a lesser-known splinter group of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), while talking to Dawn.com claimed that his group was responsible for today's court attack.
The group had recently parted ways with the TTP over holding of talks with the government.
He claimed that the court was targeted as the prevailing system in the country was un-Islamic which included the courts and its administration. He added that their struggle would continue till Sharia law was implemented in Pakistan.
According to police, two blasts took place inside the court's premises, one near the lawyers' chambers and the other outside another office.
Moreover, lawyers fled from their chambers seeking shelter from bullets as fear and panic gripped the premises.
Officers at the scene told AFP the incident began when a defendant was brought before the court and his associates tried to break him free.
Another senior-ranking police official said the incident could be a terror attack but nothing could be said with certainty as yet.
According to police authorities, militants entered the chambers of judge Rafaqat Awan and opened fire on him. Initial medical reports said that the judge was hit by three bullets.
The hearings of cases scheduled for the day were postponed.
Subsequently, police and special forces were deployed in the court and emergency was declared in hospitals.
The capital city is currently under high alert and the Red Zone was also sealed.
The head and feet of the alleged suicide attacker were found.
Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jilani took notice of the incident and summoned interior secretary, inspector general (IG) and commissioner Islamabad in this regard.
Justice Jillani said that such attacks would not discourage the morale of lawyers and judges and also called for those behind the attack to be brought to justice.
Meanwhile in Lahore, lawyers of the Pakistan Bar Council announced a boycott of court proceedings.
Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Shahidullah Shahid denied the outlawed group's involvement in the attack.
Shahidullah Shahid said TTP condemned the attack on the court in Islamabad, adding that recent terror attacks should not be linked with the organisation.
The spokesman further said the outlawed organisation would not violate the ceasefire it had announced on Saturday.
Interior minister Nisar Ali Khan had responded to the Taliban announcement saying that the government had decided to halt air strikes against Taliban militants.
An FIR of the attack was lodged against unknown persons at the Maragalla police station.
Pakistan has been in the grip of a bloody homegrown Taliban insurgency since 2007 but attacks within the capital have been very rare in recent years.
— Zahir Shah Sherazi contributed to the reporting of this story