Policemen collect evidence from the site of a bomb attack at the district court in Islamabad. (Reuters Photo)
Eleven people were killed and 25 others injured on Monday morning in a suicide attack at the Islamabad district court complex, only a day after the government agreed to stop aerial bombing of militant-held areas as part of a one month ceasefire agreed between them and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
For its part, the TTP denied any role in the attack. Spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said in a press statement that a third force may be responsible for the Monday attack and another attack that took place on the same day in the Landikotal area near Peshawar in which two paramilitary soldiers were killed.
According to Islamabad police chief Dr Muhammad Rizwan, two young men entered the court premises in Islamabad’s kutchery area and hurled hand grenades in the courtrooms and opened indiscriminate firing with automatic weapons. Both the men then blew themselves up when they were surrounded. The attackers were between 20 and 25 years of age.
Islamabad Additional Sessions Judge Rafaqat Ahmad Khan Awan and a female lawyer were among the dead. Of the five of the injured, including three lawyers, were in critical condition.
Soon after the attack, prime minister Nawaz Sharif once again went into a meeting with the military high command to decide a future course of action. The meeting was held with army chief General Raheel Sharif and the head of the ISI. Pakistan Television reported that the high level meeting would decide on important matters relating to the country’s security.
Express News reported that a difference of opinion had developed within the government on how to proceed after the attacks. The news channel said that many within the government were pushing for military action to be resumed against the militants.
For his part, chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Imran Khan, blamed the US for the attack and said that the US and other powers were not in favour of peace in Pakistan.
Imran Khan also told reporters that a full-scale military operation in North Waziristan was not in Pakistan’s favour and that that the country had been saved from destruction after TTP and the government decided to halt armed attacks and resume the peace talks. He said that the US wants to keep Pakistan Army engaged in skirmishes with the Taliban while it exited Afghanistan.