Pakistani University Under Attack — At Least Seven Dead

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan —

A university in the northwest of Pakistan has come under attack by armed militants, and at least seven people have reportedly been killed, with a further 20 injured. It’s not yet clear how many of the dead are attackers and how many are civilians.

Gunfire and explosions were heard Wednesday morning local time from within Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, northwestern Pakistan.

There are still dead inside, and the operation is ongoing, Bilal Faizi, a local emergency service spokesman told CNN.

There have so far been no claims of responsibility.

Two of the university attackers have been killed by security forces, Saeed Khan Wazir, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police, of the Mardan Range region told CNN.

There are fears that the remaining attacker or attackers are holding hostages within the campus grounds.

Pakistan Army soldiers have entered the university, according to Geo News, citing a reporter on the scene.

University faculty, administrative staff and students are in the university grounds. Five injured people have so far been evacuated from the campus, the report states, but none of the 3,000 students and 600 guests on the university campus have been injured, according to Pakistani media, citing an audio message released by Fazal Rahim Marwat, vice-chancellor of Bacha Khan University.

“Security forces are present on site and are combating the terrorists in a gunfight, but as yet are not sure how many terrorists are holed up inside the university,” Geo News reported.

A heavy contingent of officers is currently taking part in an operation against at least three suspected militants, who are reportedly hiding out in different parts of the campus.

Lt. Gen. Asim Bajwa, a Pakistani army spokesperson, tweeted that the attackers have been contained within two blocks of the university and operations are ongoing.

Bajwa also tweeted that the Army was conducting air surveillance above the university.

Prime Minister’s Statement

“Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif is deeply grieved over the sad incident of terrorists’ attack on Bacha Khan University, Charsada, which has reportedly resulted into the loss of precious human lives and injured many others,” a statement from the Prime Minister’s office read.

“While condemning the cowardly attack of the terrorists, the Prime Minister said that those killing innocent students and citizens have no faith and religion.”

The statement signed off with a quote from Sharif.

“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 the Prime Minister, who is currently in Zurich, as saying.

The past few days have seen an increase in militancy in the region, including an attack on a checkpoint in Khyber Agency, a region west of Peshawar that borders Afghanistan, where ten people were killed and 36 others injured.

The university was founded in 2012 and named after Abdul Ghaffar Khan, a 1920s Pashtun independence activist and pacifist also known as Bacha Khan, who died in 1988. Today is the 28th anniversary of his death, according to media reports.

The university, in Charsadda, near the border with Afghanistan, is less than 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Army Public School and Degree College in Peshawar, site of a December 2014 attack by militants from Pakistan Taliban. One hundred forty-five people, including 132 children and the school’s principal, were killed in that attack.