CHARSADDA/ISLAMABAD: Security forces concluded an operation to clear Charsadda’s Bacha Khan University of terrorists who had attacked the campus on Wednesday, the army's spokesman said, ending an assault that left at least 20 people martyred.
The army said it had concluded operations to clear the campus six hours after the attack began and that four gunmen were dead.
"The operation is over and the university has been cleared," DG ISPR General Asim Bajwa told news agency Reuters. "Four gunmen have been killed."
The militants, using the cover of thick, wintry fog, scaled the walls of the Bacha Khan University in Charsadda before entering buildings and opening fire on students and teachers in classrooms and hostels.
Government officials gave conflicting figures for the death toll, with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial legislator Shaukat Yousafzai saying as many as 25 people had been killed by the attackers.
But, according to reliable sources, the death toll was at least 20. Those confirmed to have been martyred included four security guards, a policeman, a chemistry professor, and several students.
Students told reporters they saw several young men wielding AK-47 guns storming the university housing where many students were sleeping.
The Bacha Khan University is a public university approximately 15 kilometers from the centre of Charsadda city. It is named after the peace activist and leader Bacha Khan whose message of peace remains the motto of the university. The attack came on the same date as his death anniversary when a poetic symposium was organized on campus. University officials said around 600 guests were also at the university when the attackers entered the campus and opened fire.
09:35AM - First reports come in of unidentified gunmen entering university and opening fire on students and security guards.
10:00AM - Geo News reported that students are being evacuated from classes and are being loaded onto busses present inside the university and are being shifted to safety.
10:05AM – Political figures and Senior police officials have also reached the spot and a rescue operation is being carried out. A large number of ambulances are also standing by outside the university.
10:14AM - Geo News Senior Anchorperson Talat Hussain said he spoke to a teacher present inside the university and shared that an explosion has also taken place. He added that according to his sources heavy firing is continuing inside and that the terrorists have spread out inside the university.
10:20AM - Sources are suggesting that there are four armed terrorists present inside the university. Meanwhile the Pakistan Army soldiers have arrived on site.
Photo shows ambulances and reporters gathered outside the university
10:21AM - According to a message released by the VC of the university none of the students or teachers have been injured in this attack. He added that 600 guests are also present on site due to a planned event at the university.
10:25AM – Geo News reported that there are over 3000 students present inside the university along with an additional 600 guests who are present for a poetic symposium.
10:35AM - Geo News reporter present at the hospital confirmed that five injured have been brought to the hospital. All are said to have bullet wounds but added that they are all out of danger except for one who is said to be unconscious.
10:37AM - Geo News reports present on site confirmed that Pakistan Army soldiers have entered the university and while gunfire is now intermittent two hand grenade explosions were also heard. The reporter also added that a professor at the university has been killed in the attack.
10:40AM - Two more injured have been brought in to the hospital taking the number of injured present at the DHQ hospital to 7.
10:42AM - A professor identified as Dr. Hamid of the Chemistry Department has been killed in the attack according to a teacher who was present with and spoke to a Geo News reporter when he was rescued from the campus. The teacher adds that multiple people have been killed inside the university.
10:49AM - Geo News reporter present at the hospital said the injured in critical condition are likely to be shifted to Peshawar.
10:51AM - According to one injured present at the hospital, the armed men entered the university from the rear end of the campus spraying bullets. Citing rescue sources Geo News reported present at the hospital added that as many as 50 people have been injured but many are being treated on site.
Photo shows security personnel outside the university
10:52AM - Two more injured have been brought to the DHQ hospital where the number of injured under treatement has risen to 9.
10:53AM - According to Lady Reading Hospital sources one injured policeman has been brought to the hospital and has suffered bullet wounds. Emergency has been declared at major hospitals.
11:00AM – The provincial home secretary told Geo News that due to fog it is still not clear how many terrorists are holed up inside the university. He added that emergency has been declared at hospitals in Charsadda and Mardan.
11:01AM – Meanwhile DG ISPR confirms that a counter terrorism operation has begun inside the university.
Update-Charsada University Attk: Army troops reached from Psr,cordoned area with terrorists inside.Ops begins,Air surveillance being done-1— AsimBajwa (@AsimBajwaISPR) January 20, 2016
Charsada Update:Terrorists contained in two blocks within University.Troops,commandos participate.Ops continues-2— AsimBajwa (@AsimBajwaISPR) January 20, 2016
11:03AM – An eyewitness told Geo News reporter present on site that there are at least 10 terrorists present inside the university.
11:04AM - The reporter present outside the university reported two loud explosions from inside the university.
11:08AM - Pakistan Army helicopters are monitoring the situation from the air to provide better spatial awareness to the forces conducting the operation on ground.
Photo shows military helicopter flying overhead during operation
11:10AM - A large number worried parents have thronged to the hospital looking for their children.
11:15AM – Geo News reports Shakeel Farman Ali reported that 90% of the buildings have been cleared on campus, adding that the operation is being carried out by Pakistan Army soldiers and the Police.
11:25Am - According to the ISPR the terrorists have been restricted to two blocks in the university.
11:34AM - Geo News reported citing DIG Police that two students are among three people that have been martyred in this terrorist attack.
11:38AM – Shaukat Yousufzai the provincial health minister said that the number of terrorists could be as high as ten.
11:39AM – The prime minister who is presently in Davos has condemned the attack and has reiterated the resolve to uproot terrorism from the roots adding that the sacrifices of Pakistanis will not go in vain.
11:40AM – The VC of the university has confirmed 5 deaths including four university guards.
11:41Am - DG ISPR confirmed that two terrorists that were holed up inside a building and were attacking forces have been eliminated.
Update Charsadda:Two more terrorists who were firing from inside the Block cordoned by Army troops,shot&killed.Op continues— AsimBajwa (@AsimBajwaISPR) January 20, 2016
11:49AM - According to sources, three teachers are among 12 people that have lost their lives in this attack.
11:50AM - Citing eye witness accounts, Geo News reporter Nauman Khan reported that the terrorists after entering the campus made their way towards different departments while firing indiscriminately which caused panic among the students. The reported added that up till now 11 explosions have been heard.
11:52Am - According to DG ISPR two more terrorists have been eliminated by Army snipers.
Update:Snipers killed 2 more terrorists on roof top,total Terrorist killed so far 4.All buildings&roof top taken over by Army.op continues-3— AsimBajwa (@AsimBajwaISPR) January 20, 2016
11:57AM - According to sources eight deaths have been confirmed. One professor, two students, four guards and one policeman embraced martyrdom in this terrorist attack. Meanwhile DIG Saeed Wazir has confirmed three deaths.
12:03PM - Injured guard from university speaks to Geo News
12:15PM - DG ISPR says university being cleared block by block.
Charsadda Update:clearance of university block by block continues by Army troops.No firing being heard— AsimBajwa (@AsimBajwaISPR) January 20, 2016
12:21PM - Update: Sources confirm at least 15 people martyred, including 4 guards, a policeman, a Chemistry professor at the university, and at least two students. At least four attackers also killed by security forces.
Scenes from outside the university.—Reuters photo
12:31PM - Khyber Pakhtunkhwa minister Shaukat Yousufzai says 25 people martyred in terrorist attack on Bacha Khan University. More than 50 injured, says minister.
12:48PM - KP information minister Shah Farman confirms that 14 people have been martyred in the terrorist attack. Four terrorists confirmed to have been killed by security forces, who have completely cordoned off the area and trying to clear the university.
13:01PM - Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan condemned the terrorist attack on the Bacha Khan University.
"I am going to Charsadda myself, and will review the situation myself. We are united against terrorism and all of Pakistan is on page," he told reporters. Khan said that he will speak to the media again after reaching Charsadda and reviewing the situation himself.
13:10PM - Awami National Party chief Asfand Yar Wali Khan condemned the terrorist attack on Bacha Khan university and announced 10 days of mourning.
He said that the National Action Plan is not being properly implemented, and feared that "it may too late if we keep dragging our feet".
13:21PM - A list of names of the deceased has been put up at the District Headquarters Hospital. The list includes the names of 13 martyrs, while families of 6 martyrs have taken the bodies of their loved ones.
13:35PM - DIG Saeed Khan Wazeer tells reporters that the terrorists entered from the rear part of the university in the morning when visibility was very low due to fog.
13:54PM - Photo of Professor Syed Hamid Hussain, who was among those martyred in attack by terrorists on Bacha Khan University today.
Syed Hamid Hussain was a professor of Chemistry at the Bacha Khan University
14:08PM - Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif reaches Bacha Khan University in Charsadda to oversee clearance operation being carried out by armed forces and security personnel.
14:48PM - Four federal ministers reach Bacha Khan University on directives of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The ministers included Pervez Rasheed, Ahsan Iqbal, Sardar Yousuf, and Abdul Qadir Baloch.
15:09PM - PTI chairman Imran Khan also reaches Bacha Khan University.
15:15PM - First rescue worker to reach Bacha Khan University tells Geo News of the scenes he witnessed.
15:29 - CLEARANCE OPERATION COMPLETED: DG ISPR
"The operation is over and the university has been cleared," says DG ISPR General Asim Bajwa , confirming that four attackers had been killed by security forces.
#COAS visited Bacha Khan University,met with LEAs/troops who carried out op.Grieved over tragic loss.Appreciated timely response from Psr-1— AsimBajwa (@AsimBajwaISPR) January 20, 2016
#COAS just visited Charsada hosp.Said,Our heart goes out to bereaved families of shaheeds for this irreparable loss.Also met all injured-2— AsimBajwa (@AsimBajwaISPR) January 20, 2016
- End of Live updates -
Geo News reporter Adil Parvez was present on ground at the hospital while Sabz Ali was reporting from outside the university with additional reporting by Shakeel Farman Ali and Nauman Khan