ISLAMABAD, March 3 (IANS): At least 11 people - including a judge - were killed and over 24 others injured in firing and twin suicide blasts here Monday morning, police said.
Sikandar Hayyat, inspector general of Islamabad police, 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, Xinhua reported.
"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," he said.
The inspector general said the number of attackers was not.
He said that 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, was unharmed, but another judge, Justice Rafaqat Awan, was killed when one of the suicide bombers blew himself up outside his chamber.
The 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 that 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 inside the court.
"After entering the court, they threw away their shawls and opened unprovoked firing, killing everyone who came in their way," an eyewitness said.
They said that two of the attackers blew themselves up and two others fled the scene after police opened fire.
Talking to Xinhua, an eyewitness said that he heard at least five to six gunshots in the court.
Media reports said that the firing triggered a stampede in the court due to which several people were injured.
The injured have been shifted to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences.
Hospital spokesperson Ayesha Isani told Xinhua that 25 injured people, as also 11 bodies, had been received at the hospital, adding that the death toll may rise as several of the injured are in critical condition.
She said that those killed the and injured include lawyers, including women.
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 blast and directed the hospital administration to provide the best medical facilities to the injured people.
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.
Following the blast, Professor Ibrahim, a key member of the Taliban peace committee, said that the militants cannot be behind the court attacks. He would quit the committee if the blast turned out be planned or executed by the Taliban, he added.