Taliban storm Bacha Khan University in Pakistan

CHARSADDA, Pakistan - Taliban gunmen stormed a university in northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, killing at least 20 people and triggering an hours-long gunbattle with the army and police before the military declared that the assault in a town near the city of Peshawar was over.

See Full Article

The attack stirred grim echoes of the horrific 2014 Peshawar school attack that killed more than 150 people, mostly children, and shocked the nation. It also prompted the Pakistani prime minister to pledge the country will wipe out the 'menace of terrorism.' Police said four attackers were also killed.

Wednesday's attack began shortly after the Bacha Khan University opened for classes in the town of Charsadda, some 35 kilometres outside Peshawar, said Deputy Commissioner Tahir Zafar.

As police and soldiers rushed to the campus, the attackers traded gunfire with the troops and several explosions were heard from the area of the university. The attackers were later contained inside two university blocks where the troops killed four attackers, the army said.

A chemistry professor and a student were among those killed, said Zafar, adding that it was not initially clear how many attackers managed to penetrate the campus. Television footage showed heavy military presence at the university, troops rushing in and people fleeing. Ambulances were at the scene and the wounded were taken to hospital.

The attackers entered the university compound by climbing over back walls and shooting at a security guard before they made their way to the administration building and the male students' dorms, police official Saeed Khan Wazir said.

A witness, botany teacher Mohammad Ishtiaq, said he jumped out from the second floor of the building when he heard gunshots and broke his leg. Two attackers were on first floor and three on the ground floor, he said, adding that they were using automatic assault rifles. The students ran in different directions, he said.

"I locked myself in a washroom," he said. "I jumped out when I saw one of the attackers coming toward me and shooting straight ahead of him."

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vowed to fight to the end and destroy the Taliban and other militants.

"We are determined and resolved in our commitment to wipe out the menace of terrorism from our homeland," Sharif said in a statement.

A Taliban leader, Khalifa Umar Mansoor, claimed responsibility for Wednesday's attack in a phone call to The Associated Press from an undisclosed location.

Mansoor, who was the mastermind mind the Peshawar school attack, said a four-man Taliban team carried out the assault in Chasadda. He said it was in revenge for the scores of militants the Pakistani security forces have killed in recent months. The main spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, Mohammad Khurasani, also reiterated the claim of responsibility.

Wednesday's attack was also the second Taliban attack in as many days in the volatile northwest. A suicide bomber riding a motorcycle struck a crowded police checkpoint on the outskirts of Peshawar on Tuesday, killing 11 people in an attack that was also claimed by the Taliban.

Later on Wednesday afternoon, provincial governor Sardar Mehtab Abbasi declared that the military operation on the campus grounds had been completed and that the attack was over. The troops were combing the nearby areas, searching for more possible attackers, he said.

Pakistani army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif visited the campus and a town hospital where the wounded were brought to.

The Bacha Khan University is named after the founder of a liberal, anti-Taliban political party. The Pakistani Taliban have in the past targeted the party for its anti-militant policies.

Pakistan's northwest and its lawless tribal regions bordering Afghanistan is a highly volatile region. Pakistani forces have been carrying out a major operation against the Taliban and other militants there since 2014.

Last month, as the country marked the first anniversary of the Peshawar school attack, the military claimed "phenomenal successes" in the war and said it has killed around 3,500 insurgents since launching the operation.

Though authorities say overall violence has declined since the wide-ranging military offensive was launched in North Waziristan, the Taliban still manage to carry out major attacks.

The Peshawar school attack horrified the country and led the government to lift a 2008 moratorium on the death penalty. Pakistan hanged four militants last month who were sentenced to death over the attack.

-----

Associated Press Writers Asif Shahzad in Islamabad and Ishtiaq Mahsud in Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan, contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • One killed, five hurt in Highway 401 crash near Quebec border

    Canada News CTV News
    LANCASTER, Ont. - One person was killed and five others were injured following a crash involving six vehicles on Monday on Highway 401 in eastern Ontario. Ontario Provincial Police say two tractor-trailers and four passenger vehicles collided in the highway's westbound lanes near the Quebec border at about 2:30 p.m. Source
  • Alberta RCMP officers cleared in fatal shooting

    Canada News CTV News
    EDMONTON - Alberta's police watchdog says two RCMP officers were justified when they shot and killed a man who was on a rampage with a stolen front-end loader and tried to use the massive machine to crush a police car with an officer inside against a tree. Source
  • North Korea issues fiery rhetoric over U.S.-South Korea drills

    World News CTV News
    SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of - North Korea's military on Tuesday greeted the start of annual U.S.-South Korean military drills with its standard fiery threats, vowing "merciless retaliation" for exercises Pyongyang claims are an invasion rehearsal. Source
  • Rate of illegal migrants slowing at Quebec border: federal officials

    Canada News CTV News
    Canada’s immigration minister says police are intercepting fewer refugee claimants illegally crossing into Quebec as officials intensify their efforts to curb misinformation encouraging migrants to head north. “We’re talking about an average of 140 people per day. Source
  • Bill Cosby hires Michael Jackson’s lawyer for sex assault retrial

    World News Toronto Sun
    PHILADELPHIA — Bill Cosby has hired Michael Jackson’s former lawyer to represent him at his November retrial on sexual-assault charges in Pennsylvania. Cosby’s spokesman announced Monday the 80-year-old comedian is bringing in Tom Mesereau to lead a retooled defence team. Source
  • 'We will win': Trump renews Afghanistan commitment

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — Declaring the U.S. will win “in the end,” President Donald Trump vowed Monday night to keep American troops fighting in Afghanistan despite his earlier inclination to withdraw. But he insisted the U.S. would not offer “a blank check” after 16 years of war, and he pointedly declined to say whether or when more troops might be sent. Source
  • Aggressive bear follows 2-year-old girl into B.C. home

    Canada News CTV News
    A British Columbia mother says a black bear followed her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter up a staircase and through a patio doorway into their home on Saturday. Elery Froude of Gibsons, B.C., says she first was alerted to the presence of the bear inside her home around 5:30 p.m. Source
  • Search underway for missing U.S. sailors; Navy chief orders probe

    World News Toronto Sun
    SINGAPORE — The U.S. Navy ordered a broad investigation into the performance and readiness of the Pacific-based 7th Fleet after the USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker in Southeast Asia, leaving 10 U.S. sailors missing and five injured. Source
  • Louisiana mom says daughter's request for braids led her to confront racism

    World News CTV News
    A Louisiana mother said she had a revelation about racism after her white seven-year-old daughter asked for braids to look like her black friend. Brigette Diez Kerr initially hesitated, worried her daughter would be chastised at school for styling herself after her African-American classmate. Source
  • Trump vows to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan but won't reveal details

    World News CBC News
    Declaring the U.S. will win "in the end," U.S. President Donald Trump vowed Monday night to keep American troops fighting in Afghanistan despite his earlier inclination to withdraw them. But he insisted the U.S. would not offer "a blank cheque" after 16 years of war, and he pointedly declined to say whether or when more troops might be sent. Source