24 Dead Pakistan Suicide Bombing

LAHORE, Pakistan -- A suspected Islamic militant blew himself up among police guarding a court on Thursday, killing 24 people and wounding scores more, in the first major attack in Pakistan since the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.

The blast at Lahore High Court, minutes before a planned anti-government rally by lawyers, was a bloody reminder of the security threats facing the country ahead of Feb. 18 elections.

Over the past three months there have been at least 20 suicide bombings that have killed 400 people, many of them security forces -- the most intense period of terror attacks since Pakistan allied with the United States in its war against al-Qaida in 2001.

Police said the man walked into a group of around 70 officers in riot gear outside the courtroom and detonated explosives on his body, sending a shower of shrapnel that left bodies sprawled in pools of blood on the street. All but three of the dead were police officers.