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11 killed in Islamabad court suicide attack

Islamabad, March 3 (Reuters): Gunmen burst into a court in a busy shopping area in the heart of Islamabad today, killing at least 11 people, including a judge, in a suicide-bomb and gun attack likely to shatter any prospect of meaningful peace talks with Taliban insurgents.

The Pakistani Taliban, who have declared a month-long ceasefire to pursue peace talks with the government, immediately distanced themselves from the attack as well as a separate blast on the Afghan border which killed two soldiers.

An explosion reverberated in central Islamabad just after 9am, followed by bursts of gunfire. Police said at least 30 were wounded.

“There was a blast, then there was a lot of gunfire. Gunmen were spraying bullets at everyone,” said Faisal Ali, a businessman who witnessed the attack.

“We have already declared a ceasefire for a month and we stand by our promise,” a Taliban spokesman said.

The judge, Rafaqat Awan, was killed on the spot. He had rejected a petition last year to file a murder case against former President Pervez Musharraf over his order to storm a hardline mosque in Islamabad in 2007.

During today’s attack, two suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the courtroom where a hearing had just started, police said.


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