Pakistani police say that the operation against gunmen who attacked a university in the northwest of the country is over, and that at least 30 people have been killed.
Most of the victims are students who were gunned down in their campus hostel. The news agency AFP also reports a Pakistani Taliban commander claimed responsibility. However this was later repudiated by Taliban central command, who condemned the attack as “un-Islamic”.
Local and state sources added that at least 60 people had been injured, four of them seriously.
“There was so much panic and fear that a friend of mine jumped from the university building. It is very high, yet he jumped from it because he was so scared. We saw the militants chanting; “Allah is greatest,” said one survivor.
Bachar Khan University is in the city of Charsadda, and teaches 3,000 students. On Wednesday morning there were 600 guests were on-campus for a poetry and Pashtun culture festival which also commemorated the anniversary of the death of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, a popular ethnic Pashtun independence activist after whom the university is named.
The attackers took advantage of thick winter fog to scale the campus walls before entering buildings and opening fire.
The army says a block-to-block search had revealed the bodies of four attackers wearing suicide vests and that the university is now quiet.
There have been conflicting reports about the number of casualties, and the Khyber Paktunkhwa state health minister warned the figures are likely to rise.
Pakistan has suffered more attacks, (850), on educational facilities than any other country in the world according to a University of Maryland study. A particularly bloody attack in December 2014 led to a hardening of national resolve against terrorism, one expression of which went too far this week.
A list of the deadliest attacks in Pakistan, by no means all, over the last nine years makes for grim reading –
2007 18 October: Bomb attacks targeting former prime minister Benazir Bhutto kill 139 people in Karachi as she returns to Pakistan for the first time in eight years. She was later killed in another gun and suicide attack on 27 December.
2008 21 August: Twin suicide attacks kill 64 people outside Pakistan’s main arms factory in Wah near Islamabad. 20 September: Sixty people are killed when a suicide truck bomb brings down part of the five-star Marriott hotel in Islamabad.
2009 28 October: A car bomb destroys a market in the northwestern city of Peshawar, killing 125 people.
2010 1 January: A suicide car bomb kills 101 people at a village volleyball game in the northwestern district of Bannu. 12 March: Twin suicide attacks on the military in Lahore kill 57. 28 May: Gun and suicide attackers storm mosques belonging to the Ahmadi religious minority in Lahore, killing 82 people.9 July: A suicide bomber blows himself up in a busy market in the northwestern Mohmand tribal district, killing 105 people. 3 September: A suicide attack kills 59 at a Shiite Muslim rally in the southwestern city of Quetta. 5 November: A suicide bomber kills 68 people during Friday prayers in the northwest’s Darra Adam Khel area.
2011 3 April: Fifty die after two suicide bombers attack a Sufi shrine in the central town of Dera Ghazi Khan. 13 May: Two suicide bombers kill at least 98 people outside a police cadet training centre in Charsadda. 19 August: A suicide bomber hits a mosque during Friday prayers in the tribal district of Khyber, killing at least 43.
2012 11 January: Thirty-five die when a remote-controlled bomb detonates in a market in the northwestern tribal areas. 16 August: Gunmen drag 20 Shia Muslims off a bus and shoot them in the northwestern district of Mansehra.
2013 10 January: A double suicide attack on a snooker club kills 92 in a Shiite Hazara neighbourhood of Quetta. 16 February: A bomb at a market at Hazara Town, a Shia Hazara neighbourhood in the suburbs of Quetta, kills 89. 3 March: A car bomb explodes in a Shiite Muslim neighbourhood in Karachi, killing 45. 27 July: Twin explosions at a busy marketplace in northwest Pakistan kill 41. 9 August: A suicide bomber targets the funeral of a senior police officer in Quetta, killing 38. 22 September: Eighty-two people die when two suicide bombers attack a church in Peshawar after a Sunday service. 29 September: A car bomb in a busy market area in Peshawar kills 42.
2014 19 January: A bomb rips through a military convoy in the northwestern city of Bannu, killing 20 soldiers. 21 January: A bomb on a bus kills 24 Shia pilgrims in the southwestern province of Balochistan. 10 June: Ten Taliban militants lay siege to Karachi airport, killing 27 people. 2 November: Fifty-five are killed by a suicide bomber at the daily closing ceremony at the main Pakistan-India border crossing. 16 December: ‘Taliban’ insurgents storm an army-run school in Peshawar, killing at least 154 people including 135 children.
2015 30 January: 62 people are killed as a suicide bomber hits a Shiite mosque in the Shikarpur district. 13 February: Militants attack a Shia mosque in Peshawar, killing 22. 13 May: Forty-three Shiite Muslims are killed when gunmen open fire on their bus in Karachi. 18 September: The Pakistani Taliban attack an air force base near Peshawar and kill at least 29 people, most of them servicemen. 23 October: A suspected suicide blast which targeted Shiite Muslims in the southern city of Jacobabad kills 24. 13 December: A bomb rips through a crowded bazaar in a mainly Shiite area of Pakistan’s northwestern tribal region, killing at least 23. 29 December: A Taliban suicide bomber on a motorcycle kills 26 in the northwestern town of Mardan.
2016 20 January 20: Taliban gunmen attack a university in Charsadda, killing at least 30.