October 27, 2016

Gunmen storm university in northwestern Pakistan

TV footage shows heavily armed soldiers entering the campus

At least 21 people have been killed after a group of militants attacked a university in Pakistan.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack which wounded 50 people.

The gun battle ended several hours after the militants stormed the Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Three students, at least one professor, policemen and guards all lost their lives in the violent attack. It is feared the death toll could rise to 40, according to a security official.

Four of the gunmen were killed by security forces and the remaining militants – it is not known how many – were contained to two blocks inside the university.

Earlier, explosions were heard inside the campus. Soldiers were seen entering the university as ambulances parked outside the main gate.

Following the attack, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said: “We are determined and resolved in our community to wipe out the menace of terrorism from our homeland.”

Police said the militants managed to enter the campus buildings on Wednesday morning after scaling the walls of the university, which is situated 35km away from Peshawar.

“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,” said Deputy Inspector General Saeed Wazir, adding that 70 per cent of the students had been rescued.

Shabir Khan, a lecturer, was about to leave the hostel for the English department when the attack began.

“Most of the students and staff were in classes when the firing began.”

Security personnel take up positions outside the university

“I have no idea about what’s going on but I heard one security official talking on the phone to someone and said many people had been killed and injured,” said Mr Khan.

The Bacha Khan University is named after the founder of a liberal, anti-Taliban political party. The party has in the past been targeted by the Pakistani Taliban for its anti-militant policies.

Following the massacre of 134 school children in December 2014 in Peshawar, carried out by gunmen believed to be linked to the Pakistani Taliban, hundreds of suspected militants have been killed and arrested in a major crackdown.

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