A deadly attack on a Pakistan university Wednesday left at least 25 students and teachers dead in Charsadda, northwestern Pakistan near the city of Peshawar. The assault on the Bacha Khan University, coming a little more than a year after the horrific 2014 Peshawar school attack that left over 150 people dead, was perpetrated by the Taliban, which claimed responsibility in a written statement.
Reports Reuters news service on Jan. 20: “Umar Mansoor, a senior Pakistani Taliban commander involved in the December 2014 attack on the army school in Peshawar, claimed responsibility for the Charsadda assault and said it involved four of his men. He told Reuters by telephone the university was targeted because it was a government institution that supported the army.”
According to reports, Taliban militants used the cover of dense, wintry fog to scale the walls of the university and kill security guards before storming into the schools. Television footage showed that many of those killed were shot in the head execution-style. Many of the victims were sleeping in dorms inside of the school.
The Pakistan university attack led to a gun battle between police and the Taliban soldiers. Four militants were killed in the exchange. A heavy military presence remains at the school today. Police said the attack was carried out by only four men, all of whom are now confirmed dead.
At the same time a senior Pakistani Taliban commander claimed responsibility for murders at the school, an official spokesman, in what has become a common Taliban practice, denied being involved, referring to the attack as “un-Islamic.”
“Youth who are studying in non-military institutions, we consider them as builders of the future nation and we consider their safety and protection our duty,” commented Taliban spokesman Muhammad Khorasani.
A botany teacher, identified as Mohammad Ishtiaq, told The Associated Press that he jumped from a second-story window when the attack started and broke his leg. “I locked myself in a washroom,” Ishtiaq said. “I jumped out when I saw one of the attackers coming toward me and shooting straight ahead of him.”
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vowed, once again, to destroy the Taliban’s reign. “We are determined and resolved in our commitment to wipe out the menace of terrorism from our homeland,” Sharif said in a statement.
Adds Retuers: “The Pakistani Taliban are fighting to topple the government and install a strict interpretation of Islamic law. They are loosely allied with the Afghan Taliban who ruled most of Afghanistan until they were toppled by a U.S.-backed military action in 2001.”
In December, Pakistan marked the first anniversary of the Peshawar attack, and the country’s military force claimed to have had “phenomenal successes” in the war against terror, alleging to have killed 3,500 Taliban insurgents. After the 2014 attack, Pakistan lifted a moratorium on the death penalty, which had been in place since 2008. In December, four suspects were hanged for taking part in the 2014 Pakistan university attack.