A suicide attacker detonated explosives near a police station in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad today, killing more than 10 police officers, officials said.
The blast occurred in a kiosk in front of the police station, which is also near Islamabad’s Melody Market, said Naeem Iqbal, a police spokesman.
Television footage showed wounded security forces being taken away and ambulances rushing to the area.
Just moments before the explosion, an Associated Press reporter passed by the scene and saw more than 20 security forces gathered in the vicinity.
After the blast, a traffic intersection in the area was splattered with blood. Shattered glass also covered the area, which police cordoned off.
Rana Akbar Hayat, a senior government official, said more than 10 people were killed and “two, three” others were wounded.
“All are police officials,” Mr Hayat told reporters near the scene. “It was targeted to the forces by the suicider.”
The blast came as thousands of Islamists were gathered not far away to mark the one-year anniversary of a deadly military crackdown on the radical Red Mosque.
It was not clear whether the events were linked.
The explosion also came following recent threats of revenge from militants in Pakistan angered by a paramilitary operation against insurgents in the tribal north-west.
In June, a suicide car bomber killed at least six people near the Danish Embassy in Islamabad. A statement attributed to al Qaida took responsibility for that blast, which was believed to have targeted Denmark over the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.
Violence levels have fallen in Pakistan since last year, but attacks still occur.
A new government that came to power following February elections has sought to end militancy in the country primarily through peace deals with extremists.
That approach has earned criticism from US officials, who say the deals will simply give time for militants to regroup and intensify attacks on foreign forces in neighbouring Afghanistan.
About a week ago, as militants in the north-west increasingly began threatening the key city of Peshawar, the government launched a paramilitary operation in Khyber tribal region to flush out the extremists.
That operation has been halted while officials try to negotiate peace through tribal elders, but Pakistani Taliban leaders have vowed revenge for the government’s show of force.
Much of last year’s violence came on the heels of the military crackdown on the Red Mosque.
The siege of the mosque was spurred after tension over an increasingly violent anti-vice campaign led by the mosque’s administrators – including the kidnapping of alleged prostitutes – boiled over into gunbattles with security forces trying to enforce government authority.
The government said 102 people, including 11 security personnel, were killed in the stand-off that began July 3 last year. The siege seriously undermined the government’s reputation among ordinary Pakistanis, many of whom believe far more people died, including women and children.
A year later, the mosque siege still resonates among militant groups, which have referred to it in videos.