A group of militants stormed a university in northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, police said, with firing inside the campus still going on and two explosions heard.
Local media reported that a chemistry professor had been killed and 50 people wounded in the attack.
The militants entered the Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, early on Wednesday before opening fire on students and teachers in classrooms and hostels, two police officials said.
Army officials with heavy weapons were seen arriving at the Bacha Khan University in Charsadda after gunmen stormed the campus
Two men console each other as people are evacuated from the Bacha Khan university
Soldiers enter the Bacha Khan university during the attack by militants
Charsadda is located in the country’s volatile north-west, around 40km north-east of Peshawar where the Taliban massacre of 130 children occurred in December 2014
Vice Chancellor Fazal Rahim told reporters that several students were stuck inside the campus buildings.
Army soldiers and police had moved into the university and a gunfight with the attackers was under way, Deputy Inspector General Saeed Wazir told Reuters.
He said it was unclear how many gunmen were involved, although there were reports of as many as five.
Police confirmed two gunmen had been ‘killed’ but other attackers are believed to be on the second and third floors of campus buildings and firing is still going on.
Deputy Inspector General Saeed Wazir said police believed that most of the students had been rescued but several gunmen remained at large inside the university.
Television footage showed soldiers entering the campus as ambulances lined up outside the main gate and anxious parents consoled each other.
‘We launched an operation inside the university and are trying to rescue the students and staff of the institution,’ Wazir said.
Shabir Khan, a lecturer in the English department, said he was about to leave the hostel for the department when firing began.
‘Most of the students and staff were in classes when the firing began,’ Khan said.
At least three gunmen have stormed Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, ion northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Local security forces are pictured above
As many as 3000 people were reported as present at the university when the gunmen arrived
‘I have no idea about what’s going on but I heard one security official talking on the phone to someone and said many people had been killed and injured.’
The situation comes as Pakistan has killed and arrested hundreds of suspected militants under a counter-terrorism plan enacted after a massacre of 130 school children in December 2014 .
Charsadda is located in the country’s volatile north-west, around 40km north-east of Peshawar where the Taliban massacre occurred.
The university is named after Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, nicknamed Bacha Khan or Pacha Khan.
He was a Pashtun independence activist who campaigned against the rule of the British Raj. January 20 – today – is the 28th anniversary of his death.
BACHA KHAN: THE NAMESAKE OF TERROR TARGET UNIVERSITY
Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, nicknamed Bacha Khan or Pacha Khan, was a Pashtun independence activist who campaigned against the rule of the British Raj.
He was a devout Muslim and a political and spiritual leader known for his nonviolent opposition.
Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, Pakistan, was named in honour of the activist who promoted a message of peace and universal brotherhood.
Khan was a close friend of Mohandas Gandhi and was even nicknamed the ‘Frontier Gandhi’ in British India.
He was born in 1890 in the town of Utmanzai — not far from Peshawar, in what was then the Northwest Frontier Province of India.
At the age of 20, he opened a mosque school in his hometown, but it was banned by British authorities five years later.
Shortly after meeting Gandhi in 1919 Khan founded the Khudai Khidmatgars or ‘Servants of God’ to expand his revolutionary work.
He was arrested in 1930 during protests following the famous Salt March which saw British troops open fire on the unarmed crowd.
Khan formed Pakistan’s first National opposition party, the Pakistan Azad Party, on 8 May 1948.
He spent much of the 1960s and 1970s either in jail or in exile and died on 20 January 1988 in Peshawar under house arrest.
The political leader was buried at his house in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.
Tens of thousands of mourners attended his funeral, marching through the Khyber Pass from Peshawar to Jalalabad, although it was marred by two bomb explosions killing 15 people.
There are no immediate reports of injuries at the university (pictured)