Pakistani militants attack court complex; 3 dead

RIAZ KHAN Associated Press Published:

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) -- A suicide bomber blew himself up in a courtroom on Monday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar, killing at least three people and wounding more than two dozen others, police said.

Two militants attacked the back of the court compound and were confronted by three police guards, said police officer Masood Afridi. The militants shot and wounded the policemen, but not before one of the guards gunned down one of the suicide bombers, Afridi said.

The other bomber managed to enter the courtroom of a female judge and detonated his explosives, said Afridi. Three people were killed and 30 wounded in the attack, he said.

The female judge was among the wounded, said another police officer, Mohammad Arshad Khan.

Naeem Ullah was standing outside the courtroom when the bomber blew himself up.

The blast "caused all of the glass in the windows to break, and I was wounded in my leg and back," said Ullah. He spoke while receiving treatment at a local hospital.

The attackers may have been trying to free militant colleagues jailed on the premises of the compound, said Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the information minister for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where Peshawar is the provincial capital.

Hussain initially suggested that the attackers may have taken some hostages, but later said the situation was under control.

Local TV footage showed people running for safety, including wounded people being assisted by others. They included a pair of policemen, a lawyer and other civilians, including one man whose clothes had been torn to shreds. Police commandos and army soldiers rushed toward the complex, as the wounded were shifted to stretchers and taken to the hospital.

Peshawar is located on the border of Pakistan's semiautonomous tribal region, the main sanctuary for Taliban militants who have been waging a bloody insurgency against the government. The militants and their allies have carried out scores of bombings in Peshawar.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the latest attack.

In the southern port city of Karachi, paramilitary forces arrested a militant leader who was involved in the kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002, said two paramilitary officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Qari Abdul Hayee, a former leader of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militant group in southern Sindh province, was arrested on Sunday in Karachi, said the paramilitary officials. He also went by the name Asadullah and was involved in other attacks in Karachi as well, they said.

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is a radical Sunni Muslim militant group that has carried out many attacks in Pakistan, especially against minority Shiite Muslims.

Also in Karachi, gunmen riding on a motorcycle shot to death a Shiite professor, Sibt-e-Jafar, on Monday, said police officer Amir Farooqi.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

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Associated Press writers Zarar Khan in Islamabad and Adil Jawad in Karachi, Pakistan, contributed to this report.