South Asia

Judge among 11 dead in suicide blast, firing in Islamabad court

Pakistani police officers look for evidences at the site of a suicide attack in a court complex, in Islamabad,on Monday.   | Photo Credit: B.K. Bangash

An additional sessions judge and 10 others including three lawyers were killed on Monday morning in a suicide attack and firing in the district and sessions court complex in F 8 sector of the main market in Islamabad.

As many as 29 others were injured in the attack which began a little after 9 a.m. when the courts opened. The narrow lanes of the congested court complex were full of blood and body parts as policemen wearing plastic gloves picked up pieces of flesh, some even stuck on the electric wires above.

Inspector General(IG) Islamabad Sikandar Hayat said that there appeared to be two or three gunmen who fired at people and threw grenades, one of which did not explode. Two suicide bombers detonated themselves, one outside the chamber of additional sessions judge Rafakat Ahmed Awan and the other outside a senior lawyer's office, killing both.

The head of one of the bombers was found and two legs said to belong to another person were lying outside Mr. Awan's chamber. A policemen was among those killed.


There was shattered glass everywhere and a small crater where a bomb exploded. After the firing, pandemonium swept the court complex with people running helter skelter. Nadeem Hassan, a lawyer told The Hindu that he knew Mr. Awan and he was made a judge last year.

"I saw a leg in one of the offices of the lawyers, and heard gun shots and explosions." This was not the first time the district court was targeted, he said. There was a suicide blast some years ago and a politician had lost his legs.

Blood stained walls and body parts lying in pools of blood and shattered glass bore testimony to the mayhem that was caused by the armed gunmen.

Eyewitnesses said there were four to six gunmen who fired at random. Murad, an advocate, said that there were more than ten attackers and they got out of two Land Cruisers."It was around 9.15 a.m.. I was standing near the bar room which was targeted with a grenade. Another bomb blast killed Mr. Awan and a woman," he said.

"They had AK 47s and grenades in their hands and we ran to hide in one of the chambers," he added.

The court has virtually no security and the scanners were out of order. There were one or two policemen with pistols and it was 30 minutes before the security forces came and by then it was too late, he pointed out. "We took the injured and put them in private cars to rush them to hospital. There were no stretchers even and we used tin carts." It was later that two ambulances turned up.

Planned terrorist attack

Murad was going to meet Mr. Awan as he was dealing with a case in his court. "I was saved because I had to drop my sister off and I reached a few minutes late. He was a nice jolly man and we used to often joke with each other. Another judge Adnan Jamali was also shot at. This seems to be a planned terrorist attack and there was no security anywhere," he said.

Official sources at the site said that there were two suicide bombers who were killed and two of the gunmen managed to escape. However, eyewitnesses said there were many more gunmen. Rana Abid Farooq was sitting in another lawyer's office when the gunmen fired through the glass windows. He saw three gunmen wearing belts with bullets and wearing jackets. "We ran to the library and saw the gunmen from the top," he added.

Another lawyer Abdul Ghaffar lay on the ground under a chair to escape the firing."I was saved but four others in the office were badly injured," Gaffar said. "The attackers came from three sides and there must have been more than eight of them. In ten minutes, they managed to create hell. I saw two of them firing very calmly and at random," he said.

Every lane in the court compex had blood and no office was intact. The suicide blast outside block three destroyed all the three courts there and bits of blood and flesh were everywhere.

Ghaffar, who was with another lawyer Mian Abdul Razzak, said he heard shots soon after nine a.m. and thought it was some random firing. "Then it became continuous and we heard them in the chambers speaking Pashto. Three of them came and fired at us and threw a grenade and we couldn't see anything. I still can't hear properly," he said. Ghaffar and others hid till the police and anti terrorist squads came and extricated them.

Another lawyer Khalid Mahmood was going back to his office when he saw five young men - in their early 20s bearded and wearing shalwar kameez - carrying AK 47s and grenades with bags slung on their shoulder. They shot a senior lawyer Rao Rashid Iqbal Khan and moved to Gilani Hall near the canteen. Mr. Mahmood said the lawyers had complained a week before that the court was vulnerable and it has no CCTVs or proper security mechanism in place. Mr. Mahmood's white sleeves were stained with blood as he helped carry the victims to hospital. "We found nine bodies and removed them," he said.

At 9.19 a.m., he called the Islamabad IG Mr. Hayat who said he didn't know about the firing, Mr. Mahmood said. Lawyers have condemned the incident and called for a boycott of courts tomorrow all over the country.

The doctors at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences(PIMS) confirmed that eleven people were killed and 29 injured, five of them in a serious condition. Fiza Tariq, a lawyer, was the only woman killed while another woman has been injured.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 1:39:41 AM |

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