Gunman opens fire inside courtroom killing top lawyer in northwest Pakistan

A gunman dressed as a lawyer shot and killed a prominent attorney inside a courtroom in northwestern Pakistan on Monday, police said.

The attacker, who was arrested at the scene, had opened fire at Abdul Latif Afridi, a former president of Pakistan’s lawyers union and a prominent figure in the community, fatally wounding him. The attack took place at the High Court in Peshawar.

The attacker, Adnan Khan, had previously accused Afridi of orchestrating the 2015 killing of his father, Samiullah Khan, who was also a lawyer, said Naeem Khan, a police officer.

It was unclear how the attacker managed to sneak into the court building with a handgun. The killing was condemned by Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, government officials, politicians and lawyers.

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In a statement, Sharif expressed concern over the deteriorating security situation in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where Peshawar is the capital. His chief rival, the party of opposition leader and former Prime Minister Imran Khan is in power in the provincial assembly.

Before his killing, Samiullah Khan, the father of the attacker, had represented Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani physician who helped the CIA find al-Qaida mastermind Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden was killed in 2011 by Navy SEALs in a raid on his hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Police officers examine the crime scene following a shooting incident on the premises of the Peshawar High Court in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Jan. 16, 2023.
(AP Photo/Muhammad Sajjad)

The physician ran a fake vaccination campaign that helped locate and identify bin Laden. The doctor and the lawyer killed on Monday are not related.

In 2012, Pakistan sentenced Shakil Afridi to 33 years in prison on charges of allegedly providing money and medical treatment to Islamic militants in a former tribal region. Afridi and his family have denied those charges.

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Pakistan was outraged over being kept in the dark ahead of the SEALs operation. Washington has demanded Afridi’s release but Islamabad has resisted the demand, saying he violated Pakistani law. The doctor was never formally charged in bin Laden’s case.