Judge among 11 killed in Pakistan court attack
Posted on Mar 03 2014 | IANS
Islamabad, March 3 : At least 11 people, including a judge and three lawyers, were killed and 29 others injured in firing and twin suicide blasts here Monday morning, police said even as the Tehrik-i-Taliban dissociated itself from the incident.
Islamabad inspector general of police Sikandar Hayyat said that heavily armed gunmen entered a district court located in downtown F-8 area from the rear side, opened fire at the people and hurled hand grenades at the lawyers' chambers.
"After hearing blasts in the court, policemen from the nearby police station rushed to the site and opened fire at the militants who blew themselves up after getting cornered," Xinhua quoted Hayyat as saying.
The inspector general said the number of attackers was not known.
He said the attackers targeted the chamber of additional sessions judge Naveed Khan where a sensitive case was being heard, but refused to divulge details.
Justice Naveed Khan, as also his staff, were unharmed but another judge, Justice Rafaqat Awan, was killed when one of the suicide bombers blew himself up outside his chamber.
The Associated Press of Pakistan (APP), citing a list released by the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) hospital, said the others killed were senior advocate Rao Abdul Rashid, advocates Tanveer Ahmed Shah and Fiza Malik, advocate Mian Muhammad Aslam, regional director of Allama Iqbal Open University, Muhammad Riaz, a policeman Akbar Umer Tariq, junior munshi Talib Hussain, a court staffer Shabir, Haji Sanullah and an unidentified person.
According to PIMS spokesperson Ayesha Mushtaq, of those injured, the condition of five is critical.
Geo TV channel quoted an unnamed police officer as saying that the militants attacked the court to release their accomplices who were brought there for a hearing but blew themselves up after being cornered by the police.
Hayyat said the militants came in a jeep which they parked outside the court building.
Eyewitnesses said that they saw four militants wearing shawls and holding guns and hand grenades entering the court.
"After entering the court, they threw away their shawls and opened fire, killing everyone who came in their way," Xinhua quoted an eyewitness as saying.
Media reports said the firing triggered a stampede in the court due to which several people were injured.
The Supreme Court announced a black day in the country Tuesday while Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani took suo-motu notice of the incident.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attack and directed the hospital administration to provide the best medical facilities to the injured people.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, while strongly condemning the attack, sought a report from the director general of the National Crisis Management Cell (NCMC) on the attack, the APP reported.
The blast happened a day after the Pakistani government announced that it would stop aerial strikes against Taliban hideouts in response to a one-month ceasefire declared by the Taliban Saturday.
The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has said that it had no hand in the attack.
A TTP spokesman, speaking to media from an undisclosed location, said that the outfit had nothing to do with the two suicide attacks since it had announced a month-long ceasefire to resume peace talks with the government, The News International reported.
He said that all the groups operating under the umbrella of the TTP were obliged to follow the orders of Taliban's chief Mullah Fazlullah.