Gunmen attack Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, 21 killed

At least 21 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 undertook the rescue 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. 

A chemistry teacher died while fighting against the militants. "The teacher had a gun with him. He was trying to protect the students and was killed in firing with the terrorists," a student revealed.

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 a Waqt News  reporter, the ages of the militants were from 20 to 25 years. “One of them was aged between 16 to 20 years,” he added.

Former Interior Minister Rehman Malik has said that it is an international conspiracy and RAW and India are behind this. “After Pathankot attack, the Indian Minister said that Pakistan will face its consequences in the coming month,” he said. “The new wave of terrorism is the proof of this conspiracy,” he added. Talking to media he said the attack on Bacha Khan University is a continuity of the attack on the army public school. “We will not do any politics of blames. There is the need to forge unity in our ranks at this critical juncture. A solution to the issue of terrorism will have to be found,” he said.

He held that the government should have taken stern security measures following the attack on army public school but it was not done. Responding to a question on who is behind the terror attacks that are carried out in Pakistan he said that India was involved therein in some shape and form.

The former Minister further stated that the facilitators and sympathizers in Pakistan should be rooted out from within Pakistan.

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.

The Federal Interior Ministry has dispathed a forensic team to the university for the identification of militants. "We are in constant contact with the provincial authorities," an Interior Ministry sposkesperson told the media.

Security personnel outside Bacha Khan University (Photo Ubaid Awan)

Reports reveal that gunmen entered the university through the admin block. According to Waqt News it was breakfast time and students were not in their rooms. "The terrorists came to the hostels from the admin block, but students were not in their rooms. The terrorists then moved to other blocks," university officials told media. "Since the students were not in their rooms, the death toll would be less, thankfully" the offcials added.

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.

KP Governor Mehtab Abbasi confirmed around 2:45 pm that the operation has been completed. "There is a chance that local people are also involved in the attack," he told media. "Role of security staff of university is commendable. They worked efficiently," he said. "Security forces reached on time and surrounded the area which bounded the terrorists to a zone."

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."

Army Chief Raheel Sharif has reached the university with Core Commander Hadayatullah and KP Cheif Secretary accompanying him. He is being briefed about the attack.

COAS Raheel Sharif has said that his deepest sympathies are with the families of injured and dead. “The loss in Charsada University is irreplaceable and the revenge will be taken for this terrorist attack,” he said.

Armoured cars near the campus (Photo: AFP)

Security personnel outside the university (Photo: AFP)

Troops inside Bacha Khan University (Photo: AP)

Meanwhile, four suspected terrorists were held with arms in Charsadda after law enforcement agencies launched a search operation in Shabqadar Tehsil following the attack on Bacha Khan university. The Counter Terrorism Department (CTD), Pakistan Army and police conducted the joint operation and arrested the four suspected terrorists with heavy automated weapons.

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?".

People seen comforting one another outside the university premises (Photo: Reuters)

PTI Chairman Imran Khan told the media he was 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.

KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, who is in the UK, will be cutting his trip short return to Pakistan.

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.

The KP provincial government has announced three days mourning in the province.

Federal Information Minister Pervez Rashid said terrorists should not be allowed to get a hold over daily life in the country. "Schools, offices, markets should remain as usual so terrorists cannot achieve what they want," he said while addressing the National Assembly. "Police, security guards and Army personnel have done a great job by conducting swift operation and limiting the destruction," he added. "We are a resolute nation and war will continue till the death of the last terrorist."

Former President, Asif Ali Zardari strongly condemning the terrorist attack on Bacha Khan University Charsadda resulting in the martyrdom of dozens of innocent people and leaving scores other injured, termed the tragedy as “a barbarity that will neither go unpunished nor weaken the resolve of the nation to root out the extremists and militants from its midst”.

In a statement issued today, Asif Zardari said that the attack on the university in Charsadda within a year of similar attack on the Army Public School (APS) Peshawar raised questions about the implementation of National Action Plan (NAP) and calls for some soul searching.

He said it was most unfortunate that the NAP developed with consensus after the APS attack last year has not been implemented in letter and spirit. "NACTA remains dysfunctional, religious seminaries have not been registered and banned militant organizations continue to operate with impunity under different names," he added.

Zardari also noted the failure of the federal government to immediately send a high level representative to the site and be with the victims and said that it will cause dismay and frustration among the people of the province who have borne the brunt of fight against militancy.

Zardari said that peace and stability will not return to Pakistan until there was peace and stability in Afghanistan and called for revisiting policies that have a direct bearing on peace in our neighbourhood.

Asif Zardari also prayed for those who lost their lives and wished a speedy recovery to the injured. He appreciated the law enforcing agencies for responding to the attack immediately. He also asked for a judicial inquiry into the incident that should also be made public demanding also publication of the inquiry report of the last year attack on APS.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto has ordered party workers to donate blood for the injured in hospitals.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has condemned the attack.

Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has reached Bacha Khan University, Charsada, Waqt News reported. “All educational institutions cannot be given fool proof security,” he said.

While talking to media he said that police and security guards have worked very efficiently. “It could have been a very big loss but security forces minimized it,” he said. “The security forces have saved hundreds of lives,” he said, “Even the local people of Charsada came with their weapons which have been seen for the very first time. This shows that we are as a nation united against terrorism.” 

The PTI chairman further stated that now the terrorists are targeting the soft targets. “As a whole nation we have to tackle it,” he added.

Awami National Party (ANP) has also announced to observe 10 days mourning over terrorists attack on Bacha Khan university Charsada.

Talking to a private TV channel, ANP leader Asfand Yar Wali said that National Action Plan (NAP) is not being implemented.

Is it not responsibility of government that it should implement every clause of NAP, he questioned. Have we succeeded on this clause of the NAP that proscribed outfits will not be allowed to operate on some other names.

He said his party was announcing to observe mourning for 10 days. "We are postponing the public meeting in connection with anniversary of Bacha Khan and Wali Khan," he announced.

The United States strongly condemned the attack on Bacha Khan University in Charsadda.

“I strongly condemn today’s appalling attack on Bacha Khan University in Charsadda. The blatant disregard for human life displayed by these attackers is intolerable. It is especially reprehensible that the attackers targeted an educational institution where students and educators are seeking to better themselves and the nation of Pakistan”, US ambassador to Pakistan David Hale said in a statement.

He said that this attack stands in stark opposition to the desires of the Pakistani people to create a secure, stable, and prosperous country, based on respect for all.

Ambassador of Germany in Pakistan Ms. Ina Lepel called on Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif today.
According to a press release, German Ambassador condemned terrorist attack at Bacha Khan University in Charsadda and expressed deep sense of sorrow and grief over the loss of precious human lives.

She said that Germany was standing with Pakistan in this hour of trial. Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif said that this terrible incident of terrorism is highly condemnable.

Sri Lanka strongly condemned today's terrorist attack at the Bacha Khan University in Pakistan and reiterated its support to combat terrorism.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this deplorable terrorist attack," Lankan Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

"Sri Lanka condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and wishes to reiterate support towards all efforts to combat this scourge," the statement added.

Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Speaker and Murtaza Javed Abbasi, Acting Speaker National Assembly have strongly condemned the militant attack at Bacha Khan University in Charsadda today and expressed their heartfelt grief and sorrow over loss of precious human lives in the incident.

In their separate statements, the Speaker and Acting Speaker termed it a barbaric and shameful act of terrorism and said that the elements involved in such activities were enemy of the country.

They said that killing of innocent students and teachers who educate the nation was an act of ultimate barbarity and such inhumane violence are carried out by those who do not deserve to be called human beings.

They said that such attacks on educational institutions cannot be justified by any religion, moral or beliefs whatsoever. They were confident that the culprits involved in this heinous act will not be spared and will be brought to justice. They sympathized with aggrieved families and prayed to Almighty Allah to rest the souls of martyred in eternal peace and for early recovery of injured. They directed the concerned authorities to take strong measures to beef up the security of educational institutions in the province and provide best medical facilities to the injured.

“We offer our deepest condolences to the victims and their families during this time of grief. The United States stands with the government and people of Pakistan and is committed to supporting their efforts to fight terrorism. We support Pakistan's efforts to bring to justice those behind the attack,” David Hale added.

According to the initial investigation of Bacha Khan University attack, one call has been traced which can be traced back to India. “The call was made from India,” intelligence sources stated.

The media further reported that all terrorists came into Pakistan from Afghanistan. “They were in contact with handlers in India,” the media reported.

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 attack in the last three days in the latest wave of terror, 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.


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