Policemen collect evidence at the site of a bomb attack at the district court in Islamabad yesterday.
ISLAMABAD: Eleven people including a judge were killed yesterday in a gun and suicide bomb attack on a court complex in Islamabad, a rare strike at the heart of the heavily-guarded Pakistani capital.
Pakistan has been in the grip of a bloody homegrown Taliban insurgency since 2007 but there have been very few attacks in recent years in the capital.
The Pakistani Taliban denied any connection to the assault, which came two days after the militants announced a month-long ceasefire aimed at restarting stalled peace talks with the government.
More than 110 people have now been killed in militant attacks since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced the talks in late January, leading some observers to question the value of the process.
A spokesman for the Ahrar-ul-Hind militant group, which recently split from the main Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) umbrella group, claimed yesterday’s attack.
There have been reports of disagreement over talks within the TTP, and analysts have voiced fears that any splintering of the movement would render the peace process useless.
But the radical cleric leading the TTP’s team for talks insisted the dialogue could still succeed.
Islamabad police chief Sikandar Hayat said the attack began around 9.00am with gunfire followed by two suicide blasts, which killed 11 people and wounded 29.
It was the first suicide attack in Islamabad since June 2011 and the deadliest in the city since a huge truck bomb at the Marriott Hotel killed 60 people in September 2008.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, addressing lawmakers in the National Assembly, said the attack could have been in response to the arrest of seven high-profile terror suspects by intelligence agencies on the outskirts of Islamabad in the past three days.
“Our intelligence agencies are hopeful and I assure this house that we will nab the culprits and bring them to justice,” Khan said.