AN ATTACK by militants on a university in north-western Pakistan, on Wednesday of last week, has left at least 22 people dead and dozens wounded.
Gunmen stormed Bacha Khan University, in the city of Charsadda, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, on the border with Afghanistan, on Wednesday morning, throwing grenades and shooting. Preparations were under way for a poetry recital in the afternoon to commemorate the death of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, after whom the university is named. Khan, who died in 1988, campaigned for Pashtun independence.
The claim of responsibility, made by a Pakistani Taliban commander to Reuters on Wednesday, was later denied by an official spokesman, who described the attack as “un-Islamic” to the BBC.
It took Pakistan’s security forces six hours to counter the attack, after which four gunmen were dead, an official said.
Students, guards, policemen, and at least one teacher, named by the media as a chemistry professor, Syed Hamid Husain, were among the dead. Professor Husain reportedly shot back at the gunmen with a pistol to allow his students to flee.
It is little more than a year since the Pakistani Taliban massacred more than 150 people, mostly children, at the Peshawar Army School, in the same province (News, 19 December). In 2013, a Taliban attack on All Saints’, Peshawar, left 127 people dead and 250 injured (News, 20 September, 2013).
The Bishop of Peshawar, the Rt Revd Humphrey Peters, told Premier Christian Radio last week that Pakistanis were living “under the terrible grip of terrorism. . . Always we are under threat.”
A statement from the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, on Wednesday, said: “We are determined and resolved in our commitment to wipe out the menace of terrorism from our homeland.”