Armed militants stormed onto the campus of a university in Pakistan, opening fire and killing at least 20 people. Students were in their morning classes when the attack began. Thus far it’s unclear if the attack was orchestrated by the Taliban, who are still active in Pakistan, though it seems likely. Bacha Khan University in Charsadda is in Peshawar, not far from where the Taliban murdered 145 children at a school attack at the end of 2014.
Umar Mansoor, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, said the attack was in retaliation of military operations against the group. Mansoor was also the brain behind the 2014 school attack. However, another spokesman for the group, Mohammed Khurrassani, said the Taliban was not responsible for the attack on Bacha Khan University.
Though the university’s mission statement is to spread a “message of peace and universal brotherhood,” it was anything but those on Wednesday. Survivors of the attack say that the militants were young, within their own age group, and that they wore jackets similar to the forces’. Soon after the firing began security took over and began firing back.
“After everything was over, the army men knocked on our room and told us we were safe,” said a university student. The attack, though a surprise, was not completely unexpected. Pakistan’s minister of state education, Muhammed Baligh Ur Rehman, says that security in the area was heightened because of “intelligence of a potential attack in tribal areas.” Security had been amped, but the university tragedy was not anticipated.
“This is part of attacks we have been going through, but the good thing is the frequency with which it was happening has been reduced in a big way, and land for these terrorists has been shrunk in an unprecedented manner,” said Baligh Ur Rehman. “We are constantly in this military operation against the terrorists, and they are on the run.”
Other attacks have been happening in the area recently. 10 people were killed and 36 injured at a Taliban attack on a checkpoint in Khyber Agency, west of Peshawar.