Taliban attack on Pakistan university claims 20 lives (Roundup)

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Peshawar (Pakistan), Jan 20 (IANS) In a yet another attack on educational institute, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) gunmen killed 20 people and injured dozens at a university located near Peshawar in Pakistan’s northwest province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

The Bacha Khan University – named after one of the best known Gandhian and apostles of peace Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan — saw bloodbath on Wednesday when Taliban gunmen opened fire on students and faculty members as they gathered for a poetry recital to commemorate his death anniversary. Gaffar Khan was also known as Sarhad Gandhi (Frontier Gandhi).

According to Dawn, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Geedar group spokesperson Omar Mansoor has claimed the attack through a post on a social media page. It said four attackers were sent to the university.

However, TTP spokesperson Mohammad Khorasani issued a contradictory statement shortly after Mansoor’s claim, in which Khorasani condemned the attack, terming it “against Shariah”.

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Khorasani also warned that those “using the name of TTP will be brought to justice”.

Sources said that the four attackers were wearing suicide vests but were killed by security forces’ before they could detonate their explosives.

Military spokesperson Lt.Gen Asim Bajwa said four attackers have been killed. Security personnel went inside the university to control the situation.

Security forces cordoned off a one-storey building about a kilometre from the university’s boundary wall, where three terrorists were believed to have been holed up. It was later cleared by military personnel.

Intelligence sources said eight to 10 terrorists were inside the university, and added they were between 18 and 25 years old, were wearing civilian clothes and had their faces covered.

A top police official of Charsadda district of the province claimed at least two suicide jackets were found at the scene, but the militants failed to blow them up before they were gunned down by army personnel.

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Security arrangements at the university were stringent but the attackers still managed to get inside the premises.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attack in the “strongest terms”.

“…Sharif is deeply grieved over the sad incident of terrorists’ attack on Bacha Khan University… which has reportedly resulted in the loss of precious human lives and injured many others,” a statement from his office said.

“While condemning the cowardly attack of the terrorists, the prime minister said those killing innocent students and citizens have no faith and religion,” the statement said.

“We are determined and resolved in our commitment to wipe out the menace of terrorism from our homeland. The countless sacrifices made by our countrymen will not go in vain,” the statement quoted Sharif, who is currently in Zurich, as saying.

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Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also strongly condemned the horrific attack, and condoled the victims’ families.

“Strongly condemn the terror attack at Bacha Khan University in Pakistan. Condolences to families of the deceased. Prayers with the injured,” Modi tweeted.

Provincial Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, who was in Scotland, has been asked to cut his trip short and return to Pakistan as soon as possible, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf leader Imran Khan said. He too strongly condemned the massacre.

“The whole nation is united against terrorism and all the institutions are on one page,” the cricketer turned politician said, adding he will personally visit the place to identify any loopholes in the security arrangements of the university.

On December 16, 2014, the TTP claimed the attack on an army-run public school in Peshawar, which claimed over 150 people, nearly all of them young students.

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