PESHAWAR: Unidentified gunmen entered Bacha Khan University in Khyber Pakhtunkha’s Charsadda town Wednesday 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.
The mastermind of the APS Peshawar attack, Umar 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 attackers 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.
- Police confirm 21 dead
- Military says 4 attackers killed, gunfire over
- Armed assailants scaled university walls and opened fire
- Multiple blasts were heard along with continuous heavy gunfire
- 3,000 students enrolled at university
University premises secured
Military spokesperson Lt.Gen Asim Bajwa stated that the university premises has been cleared and four attackers have been killed. Security personnel, including Special Services Group (SSG) personnel were tasked with clearing the university premises and and securing the civilians inside.
The terrorists gave stiff resistance to security forces as they engaged in an operation to clear the school over several hours. Intelligence sources said eight to 10 terrorists were inside the university, adding that they were between 18 and 25 years old, were wearing civilian clothes and had their faces covered.
Snipers had taken position around the premises, with monitoring being provided by aerial assets.
Security forces also cordoned off a one-storey house, situated around a kilometre from the university’s boundary wall, where three terrorists were believed to be holed up. It was later declared clear by military personnel.
The families of students lined up outside the school. Most of the boys belonged to Dir, Hangu and other parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Journalists and all other non-essential personnel were asked to stay back in order to not interfere with the ongoing security operation. Up to 20 ambulances entered the university to rescue the injured.
Provincial Minister Shah Farman told journalists 54 security guards were stationed at the university. He said around 200 people were present in the examination hall, all of whom were rescued and “timely action by police and army has prevented large scale damage”.