Heavy casualties are feared after terrorists audaciously stormed Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, on Wednesday and fired at hundreds of students who were inside the campus.
Media reports said four terrorists have been killed so far. Lieutenant General Asim Saleem Bajwa tweeted updates on the army operation.
“Update:Snipers killed 2 more terrorists on roof top,total Terrorist killed so far 4.All buildings & roof top taken over by Army.op continues,” read his latest tweet. A while earlier Bajwa had tweeted, “Two more terrorists who were firing from inside the Block cordoned by Army troops,shot&killed.Op continues.”
Besides the security forces, members of Edhi Foundation have reached the spot.
Eyewitnesses and the police gave different numbers of those killed or wounded. An official engaged in rescuing people said a rescued student said that “60 to 70 students had been shot in the head” by the attackers. This number, however, is yet to be confirmed.
This attack is reminiscent of the 16 December 2014 attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar last month when seven gunmen affiliated with the Tehrik-i-Taliban opened fire on school staff and children, killing 141 people, including 132 schoolchildren between the age of eight and 18 years.
Early on Wednesday, a group of militants stormed Bacha Khan University amid thick fog, police said. Pakistan media reported that a chemistry professor had been killed and 50 people wounded in the attack. Dawn tweeted that an Edhi volunteer said that he had seen the bodies of at least 15 persons.
The militants entered the university before opening fire on students and teachers in classrooms and hostels, two police officials said. Vice-Chancellor Fazal Rahim told reporters that several students were stuck inside the campus buildings.
The army and police had moved into the university and a gunfight with the attackers was under way, Deputy Inspector General Saeed Wazir told Reuters. He said it was unclear how many gunmen were involved. Later, media reports said that “eight to 10” terrorists were inside the university.
Television footage showed soldiers entering the campus as ambulances lined up outside the main gate and anxious parents consoled each other.
“We launched an operation inside the university and are trying to rescue the students and staff of the institution,” Wazir said.