A university has come under attack by armed militants in the northwest region of Pakistan. At least 20 students have been killed and 60 others are said to be injured.
Gunfire and explosions were heard Wednesday morning local time from within Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, northwestern Pakistan.
Shaukat Yousafzai, a minister in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provincial government, had earlier told media the death toll had risen to 20.
“I fear the casualties will rise,” he added. Police said the clean-up operation had been completed after security forces killed four militants, adding that 21 people had been killed.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan have claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement issued to local media, claiming they deployed four suicide attackers for the assault. It’s not yet known if the four identified militants were the only ones participating in the attack or were part of a larger force.
Lt. Gen. Asim Bajwa, an army spokesperson, recently said on Twitter that government troops had resumed control of all buildings and rooftops. An updated tweet said that the gunfire had ceased and troops were clearing the site block by block.
Naseer, a 23 year old student of the University, 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.
Iftikar Khan, the owner of a travel agency in Charsadda, visited the city hospital where he estimated a stream of ambulances delivered well over 100 bodies.
“A lot of them were girls,” he said.
A male student just told me militants entered the campus and started killing students indiscriminately Both male and female students were shot, he said.
The government of Pakistan has issued a statement condemning the attack. It said:
President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif have condemned terrorist attack and directed security agencies to clear the university of terrorists at the earliest. The Prime Minister House spokesman said Nawaz Sharif is personally monitoring the situation and he is being kept updated about the latest development. The PrimeMinister expressed sorrow and grief on the loss of precious lives in the terror attack. He said those who attacked innocent students and citizens have no religion and the government is committed to eliminate them.
Speaker and Deputy Speaker National Assembly, Chief Ministers of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh and PTI Chief Imran Khan have also condemned the terrorist attack.