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Terrorists attack Pakistan court, killing 11

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By The Washington Post
Monday, March 3, 2014, 5:51 p.m.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Two suicide bombers armed with grenades stormed Islamabad's district court complex on Monday morning, killing 11 people in the deadliest terrorist attack in Pakistan's capital in several years.

The attack occurred at 8:30 a.m. when the men, described by police as “professional terrorists,” entered the complex and began firing assault rifles as they lobbed hand grenades at judges, lawyers and residents gathered for civil-court proceedings.

Witnesses said the men fired indiscriminately, causing panic in one of Pakistan's safest and most heavily guarded cities.

“Everyone was running to save their life, and it was a horrible scene,” said M. Yaseen, a 46-year-old trader who had gone to the courthouse to process some paperwork. “I felt like I was watching a movie, and this was not real.”

The attack, which killed a district court judge, at least three attorneys and the chief constable, occurred less than 24 hours after Pakistan's government announced that it had to agreed to a one-month unconditional cease-fire with the Pakistani Taliban.

The cease-fire was supposed to head off a Pakistani military operation against militant strongholds in northwest Pakistan and allow for the resumption of preliminary peace talks between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government and Taliban representatives. Instead, Sharif and the Pakistani military are once again being tested over how much bloodshed they are willing to accept in their hopes of reaching a negotiated peace agreement.

The assault lasted 45 minutes and ended only when the gunmen blew themselves up in front of a courtroom. According to police, at least 25 people were wounded in the attack. The dead included Rafaqat Awan, a prominent district court judge.

Shabir Hussain, 30, a lawyer, said he saw the gunmen shoot and kill Awan.

“They were very calm and seemed to be well-trained militants,” Hussain said.

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