Pakistan University attack: Over 25 killed, 50 injured as militants storm varsity

Peshawar: At least 25 people were killed and about 50 others injured on Wednesday after heavily-armed Taliban militants stormed a prestigious university and opened indiscriminate fire on students and teachers in Pakistan's restive northwest Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

Pakistan University attackPakistani army soldiers take part of search operation at the Bacha Khan university following an attack by militants in Charsadda, about 50 kilometres from Peshawar, on January 20, 2016. Pic/AFP

The gunmen entered the Bacha Khan University in Charsadda district of the province, some 50 kms southwest of Peshawar, and opened fire on students and teachers in classrooms and hostels, media reports said. Blasts and heavy gunfire were heard from inside the University campus.

Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf Party leader and provincial lawmaker Shaukat Yousafzai said that 25 people, including a professor, were killed and around 50 others injured in the terrorist attack on the University this morning.

The injured were shifted to hospital. An emergency has been declared in all hospitals in the town. All schools have been closed in the area. Yousafzai said between four to 10 attackers were involved in attack. "Such cowardice attack could not shake the resolve of the Government in the fight against terrorism," he said.

Soon after the attack, a large contingent of security forces rushed to the site and started evacuating students. Pakistan Army troops also rushed to the University from Peshawar and started operation.

Pakistan University attackPakistani army soldiers rescue people from Bacha Khan university following an attack by militants in Charsadda, about 50 kilometres from Peshawar. Pic/AFP

Army spokesman Lt Gen Asim Salim Bajwa tweeted that four terrorists were killed during operation launched by security forces to clear the University. "Snipers killed 2 more terrorists on roof top, total Terrorist killed so far 4. All buildings & roof top taken over by Army...," he tweeted. "Clearance of university block by block continues by Army troops."

Earlier, two terrorists who were firing from inside the university block were shot and killed by the army. The terrorists were contained in two blocks within the university and troops, commandos are participating in the operation.

Surveillance operation has been completed. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed the responsibility for the attack, the Express Tribune reported. Citing intelligence sources, media reports said the terrorists are between 18 and 25 years old.

University Chancellor Dr Fazal Rahim said there are over 3,000 students present inside the university along with an additional 600 guests who are present for a poetic symposium to mark the death anniversary of Khudai Khidmatgar Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan alias Baacha Khan who died on January 20, 1988. Rahim said four guards of university and one policeman were killed in attack.

Geo TV reported that Professor Hamid Hussain of chemistry department was also among dead. "A teacher of the varsity after evacuation said Chairman Chemistry Department Hamid has been martyred by the firing of the militants," it said, adding the terrorists barged into
Hamid's room and fired at his head, killing him instantly.

President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the terror attack and directed security agencies to clear the University of terrorists at the earliest. Prime Minister Sharif is personally monitoring the situation and he is being kept updated about the latest development, his spokesman said.

Sharif expressed sorrow and grief on the loss of precious lives in the terror attack and said those who attacked innocent students and citizens have no religion. "The government is committed to eliminate them," he said.

Speaker and Deputy Speaker National Assembly, chief ministers of Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh and Tehrik-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan also condemned the attack. The terrorists barged into the university where the event was being attended by a large number of students. Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa lawmaker Arshad Ali said the attackers entered the university after scaling its walls, Dawn reported.

Opposition Awami National Party announced 10-day of mourning.

The families of students have lined up outside the school. Up to 20 ambulances have entered the university to rescue the injured, it said.

Quoting a Rescue 1122 official said, Dawn said the boys section of the hostel has been affected and the victims have mostly been hit by bullets. It said an Edhi volunteer has seen the bodies of at least 15 persons.

Wednesday's attack comes a little over a year after Taliban militants massacred over 150 people, mostly students, in an assault on an army-run school in Peshawar in December, 2014.

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