News / Asia

    Pakistan Mourns After Attackers Kill 21 at University

    Bodies are removed from scene of militant attack at Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, Pakistan, Jan. 20, 2016. (Photo: N. Takar / VOA Deewa)
    Bodies are removed from scene of militant attack at Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, Pakistan, Jan. 20, 2016. (Photo: N. Takar / VOA Deewa)
    Ayaz GulAyesha Tanzeem

    Pakistan observed a day of mourning Thursday following a gun and bomb attack on a university that killed 21 people and wounded dozens more.

    Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif declared the mourning period to show solidarity with those who died when a group of four terrorists stormed the Bacha Khan University in the town of Charsadda on Wednesday.

    The death toll rose to 21 overnight with the death of a student, one of 19 who were killed along with two university staff.

    Military spokesman Asim Bajwa told reporters that troops, including army commandos gunned down the four attackers and conducted a "block by block" clearing operation before securing the entire campus.

    At least two suicide bombers

    Regional deputy inspector general of police, Saeed Wazir Khan, said at least two suicide bombers were among the attackers.

    The spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, Mohammad Khorasani, says the group has nothing to do with the university attack, adding that non-military institutions are not on its list of targets. In a statement sent to VOA, Khorasani declared Wednesday's attack against "Islamic Sharia."

    Earlier, a local Taliban commander had said he sent the four attackers to the university. There was no explanation for the conflicting claims.

    Students and staff at the university told the VOA correspondent at the scene that some of the victims suffered both bullet and stab wounds.

    Military spokesman Bajwa said telephone intercepts and other evidence collected from the scene have helped investigators to "swiftly achieve a breakthrough" in identifying the planners, where and how the attack was carried out.

    But he refused to discuss further details saying it would undermine the investigation process.

    WATCH: Related video

    Gunmen Storm a University in NW Pakistani
    X
    January 20, 2016 11:36 PM
    Armed militants stormed a university early Wednesday in northwestern Pakistan, killing at least 20 - mainly students. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem went to the scene and filed this report.

    He said the attack against a "soft target" like Bacha Khan University shows that terrorists have been "frustrated" by successes army operations have achieved against their strongholds in the tribal areas near the Afghan border.

    He added that telephone calls received by the attackers on their cellphones showed they were in contact with people in Afghanistan.

    Alarming incident

    Pakistani Senator Shibli Faraz of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf told VOA that it was alarming that militants were active after a lull in terrorist attacks in the country.

    The United States strongly condemned Wednesday's attack.

    "It is particularly appalling that these terrorists continue to attack educational institutions, targeting Pakistan’s future generations," State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement.

    Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, currently visiting Zurich, has condemned "the cowardly attack" and said he was "deeply grieved over the sad incident.

    Student, Tasbeeh Ullah, saw a gunman coming up the stairs. As he watched, the gunman took aim at him and started shooting. Tasbeeh Ullah ran up to the rooftop and jumped. He became unconscious and woke up in a hospital, with broken bones. Bacha Khan Unive
    Student, Tasbeeh Ullah, saw a gunman coming up the stairs. As he watched, the gunman took aim at him and started shooting. Tasbeeh Ullah ran up to the rooftop and jumped. He became unconscious and woke up in a hospital, with broken bones. Bacha Khan Unive

    An official statement quoted Sharif as reiterating Pakistan's resolve "to wipe out the menace of terrorism from our homeland."

    Targeted civilians

    Amnesty International said the assault "violated the central principle of international humanitarian law by deliberately targeting civilians in what appears to be a war crime."

    “Whoever is responsible for this attack showed absolute contempt for life and civilian immunity. Armed groups in Pakistan must end all such affronts to humanity and commit publicly not to attack civilians,” said Champa Patel, Interim South Asia Director at the British-based group.

    The university in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has an enrollment of more than 3,000 students.

    Charsadda is located at around 50 kilometers from the province capital of Peshawar, where militants linked to the Pakistani Taliban attacked a school in December of 2014 and massacred nearly 150 people, mostly children.

    On Tuesday, a suicide bomber blew himself up near a security checkpoint separating Peshawar from the Khyber tribal district, killing at least 12 people. The Taliban claimed responsibility for that attack.

    Chris Hannas contributed to this report.

    • Four militants used morning fog as cover to climb over and cut through barbed wire barrier at the back of Bacha Khan University in Charsadda and begin an attack that last several hours and killed at least 20. (A. Tanzeem/VOA)
    • Student, Tasbeeh Ullah, saw a gunman coming up the stairs. As he watched, the gunman took aim at him and started shooting. Tasbeeh Ullah ran up to the rooftop and jumped. He became unconscious and woke up in a hospital, with broken bones. Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, Pakistan. (A. Tanzeem/VOA)
    • Some of the students were in this room as militants stormed their hostel in a gun and grenade attack Wednesday morning. Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, Pakistan. (A. Tanzeem/VOA)
    • Explosive sniffing dogs were on hand to help the security forces Wednesday as they searched through the premises of Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, Pakistan. (A. Tanzeem/VOA)
    • National and international media scrambled to get as much information as possible on the campus of Bacha Khan University Wednesday hours after security forces finished their operation and declared the campus clear, Charsadda, Pakistan. (A. Tanzeem/VOA)
    • Police arrived at the scene 45 minutes after the attackers entered the university campus. Charsadda is a relatively smaller town about 50 kilometers from Northwestern Pakistani city Peshawar. Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, Pakistan. (A. Tanzeem/VOA)
    • Entrance to Bacha Khan University where militants killed at least 20 in a gun and grenade attack, in Charsadda, Pakistan. (A. Tanzeem/VOA)
    • Entrance to the boys hostel in Bacha Khan University that was the scene of the bloodiest carnage. Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, Pakistan. (A. Tanzeem/VOA)
    • Pakistan’s military surrounded the university campus and carried out a clearing operation. Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, Pakistan. (A. Tanzeem/VOA)
    • Close up of some of the firing that took out the last two militants. Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, Pakistan. (A. Tanzeem/VOA)
    • Snipers took out the last remaining militants as they tried to flee from this rooftop through stairs behind the wall. Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, Pakistan. (A. Tanzeem/VOA)

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Hershel Parker from: Morro Bay CA
    January 21, 2016 10:48 AM
    Can anyone at any school in the United States read this report and not see how infantile "trigger warnings" are for texts by Jane Austen and Henry James? How can any student be so infantile that she or he wants a "trigger warning" before reading HUCKLEBERRY FINN?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora