More coffins bring ceasefire into doubt



An unknown number of gunmen accompanied by two suicide bombers killed at least 11 people, including a senior judge and a female lawyer, and injured 28 others in a rare terrorist attack on Islamabad’s main court on Monday, raising doubts about a ceasefire called by the Taliban just 48 hours earlier.
The attack in the courts was the biggest terrorist attack in the capital since Marriott Hotel was bombed in 2008 and comes barely two days after the TTP announced a month-long ceasefire in order to “break the deadlock in peace talks” following the killings of 23 Frontier Corps personnel in February, already in Taliban custody.
Islamabad SSP Dr Muhammad Rizwan told reporters that two young men entered the court premises. They hurled hand-grenades in the courtrooms and opened indiscriminate firing with automatic weapons. There was some discord on the exact number of attackers.
Lawyers fled their chambers seeking shelter from bullets as fear and panic gripped the premises.
Raja Muhammed Yamin, a lawyer, said he saw two men dressed in commando gear – wearing what appeared to be suicide vests – open fire indiscriminately on the people.
“It looked like they came here as part of a prepared attack, not really selecting any particular target,” he said. “It was just random firing on innocent people.”
Islamabad Inspector General Sikandar Hayat said that the firing was followed by two suicide blasts. Hayat said that there were two suicide attackers. “All the (other) attackers fled, though one sustained injuries in the leg and back,” he said.
The IG said one suicide bomber attacked the court of the additional sessions’ judge‚ while the other hit a place near the office of the bar association.
He said it seemed that the attackers intended to free their arrested accomplices‚ but they could not achieve their target. The IG said two to three terrorists opened fire on the court premises.
As people ran for their lives, police and commandos of anti-terrorism unit cordoned off the premises and started a search operation in a maze of narrow streets lined with shops and offices. People stranded on the premises were rescued as the court and adjacent areas were later cleared by the law enforcers.
Initial reports said the bombers carried out suicide attacks outside the courtroom of Additional Sessions Judge Rafaqat Awan who was hearing a case. Pools of blood and severed body parts were scattered on the floor of the courtroom. The head and feet of a suicide attacker were found, and taken into custody for investigation.
Rescue teams shifted the injured and dead bodies to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS). Medics said the judge received a bullet in his chest and died during the treatment, adding that more than 28 injured people were brought to the hospital with bullet injuries.
PIMS spokeswoman Dr Ayesha told reporters that 11 bodies have so far been received. She said the injured were being provided medical treatment on emergency basis.
Zulfiqar Naqvi, a former president of the high court bar association, said, “This attack makes it clear, there is no room left for negotiations. These people want blood and Pakistan needs to fight back.”
Naqvi and others also criticised the failure of policemen on duty around the court premises to react immediately. “The attack lasted for 40 minutes and people were desperately looking for the police to fight back. I know of at least one case where the gunmen stormed a courtroom and picked a lawyer who was shot from close range,” he said.
Police investigations also revealed that most of the CCTV cameras installed at the courts were not functional.
“This is the state of security of our federal capital. So much for Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar’s assurances on internal security,” said another lawyer.

Judge Rafaqat Awan had refused to register a first information report (FIR) against former president Pervez Musharraf for conducting the Lal Masjid operation.
Haroon Rasheed, son of deceased Lal Masjid cleric Abdul Rasheed Ghazi, had filed an appeal before Awan on April 23, 2013, asking him to register an FIR against Musharraf. However, the judge rejected the appeal and described it an attempt to gain cheap popularity. The Lal Masjid operation was launched against terrorists, both local and foreign, in 2007.
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesperson Shahidullah Shahid announced that TTP was not responsible for the attack.
In a statement, TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said: “We have already declared a ceasefire for a month and we stand by our promise. The decision of our ameer is binding on all factions.”
Shahid accused some “government agencies” of plotting the attack as they wanted the talks process to fail at any cost. “Our announcement to cease fire is conditional with the acceptance of our demands,” he said.
However, a little known group called Ahrar-ul-Hind claimed responsibility for the attack.
“I claim responsibility for the Islamabad attack,” the purported spokesperson for the group said by telephone from an undisclosed location. He was using an Afghan mobile number.
The spokesperson said he was speaking on behalf of the group’s leader, Umer Mansoor, and condemned what he called the “hue and cry” by the government and media outlets about peace talks between the Taliban and the government.
“We claim responsibility for the attack, we are an independent group and have no links with TTP,” he said. “We were a part of TTP earlier but now we operate independently.” “We do not favour the ceasefire, or the peace talks as it is un-Islamic,” he added.
“Our main demand is the implementation of Sharia, which has not been mentioned in these talks,” he said when asked why his group opposes the peace talks. The group has previously sent statements strongly opposing the dialogue process when it started last month.
Later on Monday, in the National Assembly, Interior Minister gave his report of the incident.
He spoke about the security situation at the district court and stated that “there is a huge difference between the information provided by intelligence agencies and the police”.
Nisar said that he was informed by the police that two men entered a side lane of the district court where they fired gunshots into the air and then shot everyone who came their way.
On the other hand, he stated that the intelligence agencies informed him that three men entered the premises; two of them were armed with suicide jackets while the third was carrying a kalashnikov. He later added that two of them blew themselves up, while the third ran away. The attackers were between 20 and 25 years of age, he added.
Moreover, Chief Justice of Pakistan Tassaduq Hussain Jillani has taken suo moto notice of the incident and sought report from the chief commissioner and IG on Tuesday (today). The hearing of the case would be held in an open court.


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