CHARSADDA: Stuck with 15 of his students on a third floor balcony of a campus building as gunmen came up the stairs, university director Mohammad Shakil urged police personnel arriving at the scene to toss him a gun so he could fight back.
“We were hiding … but were unarmed,” said Mr Shakil, narrating the events that unfolded on Wednesday when four militants attacked Bacha Khan University in Charsadda.
“I was worried about the students, and then one of the militants came after us,” he recalled. “After repeated requests, the police threw me a pistol and I fired some shots at the terrorists.”
As details of Wednesday’s assault emerged, attention focused on at least two members of staff who took up arms to resist the attackers.
Some hailed them as heroes, as the country digested an attack which bore similarities to the massacre, in late 2014, of 144 students at the Army Public School in Peshawar, about 30 kilometres from where the latest assault occurred.
Others questioned whether teachers should be armed, as many are, because it goes against the ideals of the profession.
Such a dilemma may have been far from the mind of chemistry professor Hamid Hussain, as he locked himself inside a room with colleagues after gunmen stormed an accommodation block on the campus.
When the assailants broke down the door, Hussain fired several rounds from his pistol, according to Shabbir Ahmad Khan, an English department lecturer taking cover in an adjacent washroom.
“They carried on heavy shooting and I was preparing myself for death, but then they left without entering the washroom,” Khan recalled.
Later, in the same building, Hussain fired again at the militants to allow some of his students to get away, survivors told media. Hussain was subsequently shot and later succumbed to his wounds.