Pakistan: Massacre at Charsadda University as security at an educational establishment is breached once again

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Troops and rescue workers gather at the main gate of the university

(Image  AP)

A Pakistan educational establishment once again came under attack today when unknown assailants gained access to Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, Khyber Pakhtunkha by scaling a wall and cutting barbed wire. Saeed Khan Wazir, a police official, told Associated Press, they shot at a security guard before making their way to the administration building and the male students’ dormitories. Several blasts were heard with gunmen opening fire on students and staff.

A poetry recital was scheduled to take place in honour of the university’s namesake, Pashtun activist Abdul Ghaffar (Bacha Khan) and hundreds of visitors were expected at the venue. At least 30 people were killed and 50 injured in the assault including students, a professor, a member of a bomb disposal squad and 4 attackers. DAWN media stated,

“Witnesses reported two large explosions as security forces moved in under dense fog to halt the bloodshed.

Police, soldiers and special forces swarmed the university from the ground and the air in a bid to shut down the attack.”

Pakistani army soldiers carry a victim at Bacha Khan university following an attack by militants in Charsadda, about 50 kilometres from Peshawar, on January 20, 2016. At least 21 people died in an armed assault on a university in Pakistan on January 20, where witnesses reported two large explosions as security forces moved in under dense fog to halt the bloodshed. AFP PHOTO / A MAJEED

Pakistani army soldiers carry a victim at Bacha Khan university following an attack by militants in (Image AFP photo / A Majeed)

The Guardian reported, “Salman Khan, an operating theatre technician at the Charsadda district hospital, said the critically injured had head and chest wounds. Fifty of the most seriously wounded were moved to the larger Lady Reading hospital in Peshawar, the nearby provincial capital.”

Many left comments on social media tweeting their anger and frustration,

Imran Khan (PTI Party)

Strongly condemn cowardly terrorist attack on Bacha Khan Uni Charsadda today. The nation stands united & resolute against terrorism.

Siraj ul Haq (Ameer Jama’at e Islami Pakistan)

The horrific attack on Bacha Khan University in Charsadda is highly deplorable and we strongly condemn this heinous crime.

Asim Bajwar, (Inter-Services Public Relations, ISPR)

#COAS visited Bacha Khan University,met with LEAs/troops who carried out op.Grieved over tragic loss.Appreciated timely response from Psr-1

#COAS just visited Charsada hosp.Said,Our heart goes out to bereaved families of shaheeds for this irreparable loss.Also met all injured-2

#COAS arrives Corps HQ Psr to chair special security Conf. All concerned including int officials attend.Briefing in progress

Mustafa Mishkee,

Charsadda attack reminds us that no Human Rights are deserved by extremist bigots. Drag their bodies all over town. Hang them in public. 

Pakistani army soldiers rescue people from Bacha Khan university following an attack by militants in Charsadda, about 50 kilometres from Peshawar, on January 20, 2016. At least 21 people died in an armed assault on a university in Pakistan on January 20, where witnesses reported two large explosions as security forces moved in under dense fog to halt the bloodshed. AFP PHOTO / A MAJEED

Pakistani army soldiers rescue people from Bacha Khan university. -AFP

The Charsadda attack comes just over a year after Pakistan Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) attacked Army Public School in Peshawar (December 2014) where the death toll reached 140. Taliban had warned in previous weeks that if torture and extra-judicial killing in custody did not stop, army and police would be targeted. Pakistan’s military had already launched an ongoing operation Zarb-eAsb to clear the Federally Administered Tribal (FATA) Areas from militants but many has advance intelligence and located over the border into Afghanistan.

TTP condemned and denied any involvement in the Charsadda attack releasing an official statement,

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TTP full statement can be read on the following link,

https://activist1.wordpress.com/2016/01/20/pakistan-ttp-strongly-condemn-the-recent-attack-on-bacha-khan-university-at-charsadda-statement/

Casualties

Omar R Quraishi (ARY) tweeted a photo of a member of staff who was killed,

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“What a waste of a life –> Chemistry Professor Syed Hamid Husain (PhD in Organic Chem) killed in Charsadda attack”

Lecturer Syed Hamid Hussain, an assistant professor of chemistry was hailed a “martyr” as he tried to protect his students firing at the attackers and was himself gunned down, see following link for full story,

http://www.dawn.com/news/1234220

Shabir Hussain Imam tweeted an official list of casualties

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He also tweeted of the cancellation of an event in the area due to the attack

In light of tragic , the Tourism & Cluture Dept of has postponed the upcoming “Huner e Hawwa” event.

The office of Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif issued the following statement, “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,”

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Photo of alleged attacker posted by Khalid Khan

Investigation

Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Lt Gen Asim Bajwa told Pakistan media that cell phones had been recovered, calls were being analysed and that terrorists were receiving calls from outside the country. DAWN media reported,

“We have gathered almost all relevant data on who they (attackers) were, from where they came and who supported them.”

But the ISPR chief said the information is “sensitive” and is being “processed and updated,” which will be shared with the public later.

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Rescue workers carry coffins at a local hospital. (Image, AFP)

Remembering the victims

Shahida Shah set up a Facebook Page, “National Mourn over the attack on students of Bacha Khan University, Charsadda”. Her message read,

“Although we are tired.. hopeless with no more stamina to cry… over the dead bodies of our students who go to schools & Universities with many dreams in eyes… but come back with people carrying them in coffins…
yes although we are really tired of crying but we can’t leave our killed or martyrs (by force) students without prayers…
please come to join us for prayers… register your feelings… so that history can remember our dry tears…”

Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.

About Carol Anne Grayson

Blogging for Humanity.... Campaigner/researcher global health/human rights/drones/WOT/insurgency http://www.esrc.ac.uk/ESRCInfoCentre/PO/experts/Health_and_Wellbeing.aspx Exec Producer of Oscar nominated documentary Incident in New Baghdad, currently filming on drones.
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