At least 25 people have been killed and over 60 injured as unidentified gunmen stormed inside Bacha Khan University in Charsadda. According to Waqt News, firing followed blasts, with eyewitnesses claiming that five blasts were heard. Pakistan Army personnel have undertaken the rescue operation.
Bilal, Rescue 1122 spokesperson, told Waqt news said that there are dead bodies inside the university but nothing can be ascertained until Army clears the operation.
A security official told Reuters that the death toll could rise to as high as 40 as the army cleared out student hostels and classrooms. A spokesman for the rescue workers said the dead included students, guards, policemen and at least one professor.
Around 50 students have been rescued from the university premises. The injured have been shifted to District Headquarters Hospital, while emergency has been imposed in all hospitals in Charsadda.
Reports reveal that gunmen entered the university through the admin block.
PTI’s Information Secretary Shaukat Yousafzai confirmed that at least 25 people have been killed in the attack. “Four terrorists have been killed as well,” he told the media.
According to ISPR, Army troops have cordoned area with the gunmen contained inside two university blocks. Air surveillance is being done.
Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has taken responsibility for the attack. Omar Mansoor, the mastermind of the APS Peshawar attack, claimed the attack through a Facebook post on his page.
Security personnel outside Bacha Khan University (Photo Ubaid Awan)
The gunmen attacked as the university prepared to host a poetry recital on Wednesday afternoon to commemorate the death anniversary of Bacha Khan. Vice Chancellor Fazal Rahim told Reuters that the university teaches over 3,000 students and was hosting an additional 600 visitors on Wednesday for the recital.
Police inspector Wazir said 70 percent of students had been rescued.
“All students have been evacuated from the hostels, but militants are still hiding in different parts of the university and some students and staff are stuck inside,” he said before the firing had stopped, adding that it was unclear how many gunmen were involved.
ANP’s Iftikhar Hussain while talking to Waqt News said “We should start joint operations with Afghanistan. We should look upon development in the tribal belts because they have become the home for terrorists. Federal and provincial governments have failed in implementing National Action Plan.”
Scenes from Bacha Khan University (Photo Ubaid Awan)
PTI spokesperson Naeem-ul-Haq while talking to Waqt News ‘strongly condemned the attack’. “My deepest condolence is with families of martyrs. Counter-terrorism laws should be more stringent and there should be public hangings”
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has strongly condemened the attack. The PM’s spokesperson said that he is being constantly updated.
“Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif is deeply grieved over the sad incident of terrorists’ attack on Bacha Khan University, Charsada, which has reportedly resulted into the loss of precious human lives and injured many others,” a statement from the Prime Minister’s office read.
“While condemning the cowardly attack of the terrorists, the Prime Minister said that those killing innocent students and citizens have no faith and religion.”
Security personnel outside the university (Photo: AFP)
ANP’s Haji Adeel criticised the intelligence. “Our ground intelligence is very weak. We have two dozen intelligence agencies. Why were they not able to forestall the attack?” he asked. “It’s because the sharing system between different departments is very weak, he added. “Why do religious leaders like Tariq Jameel not say anything ever about terrorism?”.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan told the media he going to Charsadda to evaluate the situation. “We will see what our mistakes were and what could be done,” he said. “The whole nation is united against terrorism and we will fight against it together” Khan said.
Yousafzai said that whole world is fighting against terrorism. “We are in state of war as Operation Zarb-e-Azb continues. We have been fighting terrorism as a nation” he said. “These elements are taking there last breathes and these are there final desperate attempts” he added.
Yousafzai confirmed that KP is on high alert, while security has been beefed up in Islamabad and Peshawar schools. All education institutes in Charsadda will remain closed till January 31. Educational institutes all over Pakistan have been issued red alert.
Bacha Khan University was founded in 2012 and named after Abdul Ghaffar Khan, a Pashtun independence activist known famously as Bacha Khan. Today is his 28th death anniversary.
The university is located near the border with Afghanistan, less than 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar.
This is the third back-to-back terror attack in the last three days, after an FC vehicle was targetted in Quetta on Monday, while Karkhano market near Peshawar was attacked yesterday. This is the biggest attack on an educational institute since the APS attack in Peshawar on December 16, 2014, which killed 144 most of whom were students. The APS attack triggered the government’s National Action Plan, designed to curb militancy all over Pakistan.