The newly formed Ahrar-ul-Hind claimed credit for a suicide assault today at a courthouse that killed a judge and 10 other people in Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad. The attack took place after both the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and the Pakistani government announced over the weekend that they would suspend attacks against each other.
Two Ahrar-ul-Hind suicide bombers armed with weapons and hand grenades attacked the court, and killed judge Rafaqat Awan, a female lawyer, and nine others. Thirty more people were wounded in the assault, which may have been designed to free a prisoner who was brought to court to face trial.
Asad Mansoor, the spokesman for Ahrar-ul-Hind, told Dawn that the group carried out the suicide assault and that it would continue to conduct attacks until sharia, or Islamic law, is imposed throughout Pakistan.
Shahidullah Shahid, the spokesman for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, said his group was not responsible for the attack, The News reported.
Ahrar-ul-Hind, which was formed by elements of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and “other jihadi organizations,” sent emails to The Long War Journal on Feb. 9 announcing its formation and vowing it would not participate in peace talks or adhere to a ceasefire unless sharia is imposed in Pakistan. Ahrar-ul-Hind said it is entrenched in Pakistan’s major cities and would conduct attacks there. It also said fighters in the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan are still “our brothers,” despite its separation from the larger group. [See LWJ report, Pakistani jihadists form Ahrar-ul-Hind, vow to continue attacks.]
Also today, jihadists killed two Frontier Corps troops and wounded seven more in an IED attack in the tribal agency of Khyber. No group has claimed credit for the IED attack. The Taliban and a host of jihadist groups are based in the tribal agency.
Today’s suicide assault in Islamabad and the IED attack in Khyber occurred after the Taliban and the government agreed over the weekend to cease hostilities in order to continue peace talks. On Saturday, the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan’s spokesman announced a month-long ceasefire. And on Sunday, the government said it would end its airstrikes in northwestern Pakistan. Negotiations between the government and the Taliban are being brokered by radical Pakistani clerics, including one who supports jihad and led an insurrection in Islamabad in 2007. [See Threat Matrix report, Taliban ‘negotiator’ Abdullah Aziz appears with armed guards.]