Asia & Pacific

Pakistan Taliban militant group leader initially claimed responsibility, although a second commander denied it

The death toll in a gun and explosives attack on a university in northwestern Pakistan has risen to 30, according to the Guardian, with the number of victims expected to rise.

Police told AFP that security forces had ended the operation against the gunmen.

Regional police chief Saeed Wazir said the operation had ended and security forces were clearing the area, with most of the student victims shot dead at a hostel for boys on the Bacha Khan University campus in Charsadda.

Witnesses had reported gunfire and two large blasts at the Bacha Khan university in Charsadda, about 50 kilometers from the city of Peshawar.

The Pakistani Taliban militant group claimed responsibility for the attack on the university, the latest to hit the militant-infested region. However the claim seemed to have been retracted by a second commander from Tehreek-e-Taliban, according to the Guardian.

Pakistan Prime Minsiter Nawaz Sharif released a statement on Charsadda university attack, saying that the country is "determined and resolved in our commitment to wipe out the menace of terrorism from our homeland."

A Majeed (AFP)

-'I saw a bullet hit him'-

Police, soldiers and special forces had launched a ground and air operation at the university in a bid to shut down the assault, as television images showed female students fleeing the campus.

While the exact number of attackers remains unconfirmed with some reports saying there were eight gunmen, military spokesman Major General Asim Bajwa said on Twitter that two attackers had been killed.

Geology student Zahoor Ahmed said he had tried to leave his hostel after hearing shots fired but that he was "stopped by our chemistry lecturer who advised us to go inside. He was holding a pistol in his hand," he said.

"Then I saw a bullet hit him. I saw two militants were firing. I ran inside and then managed to flee by jumping over the back wall,"

Dozens of personnel in combat fatigues and automatic weapons piled out of transport vehicles as helicopters buzzed overhead and ambulances with sirens wailing approached the scene.

Officials at two hospitals in the city said a total of six injured people have been brought in from the university, four to the Lady Reading Hospital and two to a Charsadda district hospital.

"There are male and female staff members and students on the campus," Fazal Raheem Marwat, the university vice chancellor, said, adding he had been on his way to work when he was informed of the attack.

gal/js (AFP)

Naik Mohammed, security chief at the university, said the attackers had entered close to a campus guest house.

Peshawar was the location of Pakistan's deadliest ever extremist attack, when Taliban gunmen stormed an army-run school in December 2014, killing more than 150 people, most of them children, in an hours-long siege.

The attack on the school prompted a crackdown on extremism in Pakistan, with the military prosecuting an offensive against militants in the tribal areas where they had previously operated with impunity.

Pakistan's Jinnah Institute said in a report released Tuesday that the National Action Plan (NAP) helped curb extremist violence last year, although targeted attacks against religious minorities spiked in the nation of some 200 million people.

"The NAP has allowed improvements in two areas: the first actual implementation of prosecution against hate speech, and the arrest of terrorists from sectarian organisations which feed religious violence," said one of the authors, Syed Hassan Akbar.

On Tuesday, a suicide attack at a market on the city's outskirts killed 10 people in addition to the bomber.

(staff with AFP)

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