At least 21 people have been killed after a group of gunmen attacked a university in the northwestern Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, during which two explosions have been also heard.
“The death toll in the terrorist attack has risen to 21,” said regional police chief Saeed Wazir without specifying if that included the four militants the army stated it had killed.
He said the operation had ended and security forces were clearing the area, with most of the student victims shot dead at a hostel for boys on the Bacha Khan University campus in Charsadda.
“Police told me that firing is continuing on the campus,” said Fazal Raheem Marwat, vice chancellor at the university in the district, which is located roughly 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the provincial capital of Peshawar.
“At the moment, I have no details about the casualties from the attack,” he added.
Local police official, Amjad Khan, who was outside the university, said firing was still going on inside the campus.
According local TV channels, a group of gunmen entered the Bacha Khan University and opened fire on students and teachers in classrooms and hostels.
Shabir Khan, a lecturer at the university, said most of the students and staff were in the classes when the firing began.
“We launched an operation inside the university and are trying to rescue the students and staff of the institution,” said Deputy Inspector General Saeed Wazir.
Pakistan’s pro-Taliban militants have claimed responsibility for the attack on Bacha Khan University, AFP reported.
“Our four … attackers carried out the attack on Bacha Khan University today,” Umar Mansoor, a commander in the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistani (TTP) militant group told AFP by phone from an undisclosed location.
The incident takes place more than a year after pro-Taliban militants stormed an army-run school in Peshawar and killed about 150 people, including 134 students, in December 2014. The massacre shocked and outraged a country already scarred by nearly a decade of attacks.