Nine martyred, 30 injured in attack on Agriculture Directorate in Peshawar

The injured include security personnel, students, a security guard, and a reporter

PESHAWAR: Nine people were martyred and more than 30 injured after terrorists attacked the student hostel inside the Directorate of Agriculture Extension on University Road, Peshawar early Friday morning.

The security forces later managed to kill all the terrorists after a gunfight which lasted over an hour. 

SSP Operations Sajjad Khan talks to Geo News

SSP Operations Sajjad Khan told Geo News that five attackers wearing suicide jackets reached the compound in a rickshaw. 

They were said to be wearing burqas in the rickshaw so as to avoid detection. 

The police official said the attackers' first target was the security guard of the premises, following which they made their way inside towards the students' hostel of the Agriculture Training Institute. 

"They could have wreaked havoc but the police and army successfully neutralised the threat," he said further. 

Later, army spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor praised the police performance during the operation. Speaking to a private news channel, Maj Gen Ghafoor said the terrorists were in contact with their partners in Afghanistan throughout the attack. 

He, however, put the number of killed terrorists at three.

The police and army immediately reached the site and launched an operation to clear the area and neutralise the terrorists. 

Aerial surveillance of the operation was carried out by the army aviation division whereas armoured vehicles of security forces were also on site. 

Peshawar Capital City Police Officer Tahir Khan and SSP Operations Sajjad Khan were leading the operation. 

Intermittent gunfire and blasts could be heard from inside the premises throughout the operation.

Later, during the combing operation, authorities recovered suicide jackets, two Klashnikovs, pistols, and explosives from the possession of deceased terrorists. 

The explosives and suicide jackets were disposed of later in a controlled explosion by the bomb disposal unit. 

'Fortunately, it was a weekend'  

Speaking to Geo News, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa IG Salahuddin Khan Mehsud said fortunately not many students were present due to the long weekend, adding that police APCs evacuated around a dozen students from the hostel. 

KP IG Salahuddin Mehsud

"Special units of the Pakistan Army were taking part in the operation [alongside police]," he said further. 

A clearance and sweeping operation is now under way. 

University Road, the major artery of the city, was closed down for traffic after the incident and reopened around noon. 

The injured were shifted to Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH), located next to the directorate. 

An emergency was declared in the hospital. The hospital's spokesperson, Dr Saud, initially said a total of 11 injured were brought to the hospital. 

He added that the injured included seven students, two military personnel, a police officer and a journalist. The wounded are said to have been injured in firing as well as hurting themselves while escaping the attack. 

However, later, the casualties were said to be 11 dead and more than 30 injured, including security personnel. 

'We were sleeping when it started'

An eyewitness told Geo News he and his colleagues were sleeping when the firing started, around 8:15AM. 

The eyewitness, a student, said he and his colleagues ran as fast as they could but two of their colleagues were injured in the firing. 

"We took them out with us and admitted them to the hospital," said Ariful Haq, adding that around 120 students live in the hostel but most had gone home due to the long weekend. 

He added that the students who board at the premises are undertaking their diplomas in Agriculture Sciences and Veterinary Sciences. 

Moreover, the premises houses offices of the Agriculture Directorate Extension, Agriculture Livestock Department, Peshawar Housing Authority and the office of the director general of agriculture. 

All terrorists killed: ISPR

According to the army's media wing Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), all the terrorists were killed in the operation.

Eight students were evacuated from the hostel, the ISPR said in a statement.

The army said two of its injured were evacuated to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH).

Second attack in a week 

Last Friday, senior police official Mohammad Ashraf Noor was martyred in a suicide attack in the Hayatabad area of the city.

Additional IG Headquarters Ashraf Noor was en route to work when a suicide bomber riding a motorcycle rammed into his vehicle near Tatara Park. 

Students in the line of fire 

On December 16, 2014, 147 people, including 132 schoolchildren, were massacred in one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in the country’s history when terrorists stormed the Army Public School in Peshawar Cantonment and opened indiscriminate fire.

Later, on January 20, 2016, 21 students and staff members of Bacha Khan University in Charsadda were martyred after terrorists stormed the university and opened fire.

*An earlier version of the story erroneously reported that eleven people were martyred in the attack. The error is regretted.