Pakistan, Peshawar: Today morning, at about 9:30 am local time, unidentified gunmen entered Bacha Khan University in Khyber Pakhtunkha’s Charsadda town and opened fire on students and faculty members as they gathered at the school for a poetry recital to commemorate the death anniversary of the activist and leader whom the school is named after. In attack, at least thirty people killed and an assistant professor Dr Hamid, who taught organic chemistry at the school, has been killed also in the attack. More than 3,000 people were reported to be on the campus, which lies about 60 miles (100km) north-west of Islamabad.
Naseer, a 23-year-old student, said he counted 56 bodies and saw gunmen shooting male and female students “without discrimination”. “They were directly shooting at the heads of the students,” he said. Shabir Khan, a lecturer in the English department, said he was about to leave the hostel for the department when firing began. He also said, “Most of the students and staff were in classes when the firing began”. About three hours after the attack began, the Pakistani army said the attackers were contained in two university blocks and that four of them had been killed.
Saeed Wazir, from the Pakistani police, told Reuters: “We launched an operation inside the university and are trying to rescue the students and staff of the institution. “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 the number of gunmen was unclear.
The university’s vice-chancellor, Fazal Raheem Marwat, earlier told Agence France-Presse that the gunmen entered the university campus from the southern side. “There are male and female staff members and students on the campus,” he said, adding that he had been on his way to work when he was informed of the attack. “There was no announced threat but we had already beefed up security at the university.”
The mastermind of the APS Peshawar attack, Omar Mansoor, of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Geedar group has claimed the attack through a post on his Facebook page, adding that four attacker were sent to the university. However, a spokesperson from the TTP Mohammad Khorasani issued a conflicting statement shortly after Mansoor’s claim, in which Khorasani condemned the attack, terming it “against Shariah”. Khorasani also warned that those “using the naming of TTP will be brought to justice”.
As the military announced the end of the clearance operation, mass casualties were feared in the attack reminiscent of the deadly December 2014 terrorist attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar which left over 140 dead — most of them students. Sources added that the four attackers were wearing suicide vests but were killed by security forces’ before they could detonate their explosives.