ISLAMABAD: Eleven people including a judge were killed on Monday in a gun and suicide bomb attack on a court 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 attacks within the capital have been very rare in recent years.
The Pakistani Taliban denied any connection to the attack, which came two days after the militants announced a month-long ceasefire aimed at restarting stalled peace talks with the government.
Islamabad police chief Sikandar Hayat said the attack began around 9 a.m. (4 a.m. in Manila) with gunfire followed by two suicide blasts, which killed 11 people and wounded 24.
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.
The death toll was confirmed by other police officials and the spokeswoman for the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, Ayesha Isani.
Isani said 20 wounded had been brought to the institute, half of them in a critical condition.
The dead included a sessions judge, according to police.
Roads around the court were sealed off as police and paramilitary forces carried out a search.
On Sunday, the Pakistani government announced it was halting air strikes against suspected Taliban hideouts in the country’s restive tribal areas along the Afghan border in response to the militants’ ceasefire.
“We strictly adhere to ceasefire agreement with the government,” Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Shahidullah Shahid told Agence France-Presse Monday.
“Our colleagues in the movement also cannot violate this agreement.”
The government began peace talks with the TTP last month but the dialogue broke down after militants killed 23 kidnapped soldiers.
The military responded with a series of air strikes in the tribal areas that killed more than 100 insurgents, according to security officials.