University In Pakistan Reopens Days After Horrific Attack

Photo: Getty Images
Update: Bacha Khan University reopened Monday, BBC News reports. The school is organizing a "peace walk" through the city of Charsadda, and classes will resume as normal.

This story was originally published on January 20, 2016.

At least 20 people are feared dead and another 50 injured after a mass shooting on a university campus in Pakistan Wednesday morning, according to the wire service AFP. The attack took place at around 9:30 a.m. local time at Bacha Khan University campus in Charsadda.

Gunfire and explosions were heard across campus, with students reportedly sighting militants wielding AK-47s. Another added: "We saw three terrorists shouting, 'Allah is great!' and rushing towards the stairs of our department." A witnesses also said one of the teachers, Syed Hamid Husain, fought back against the attackers: "He was holding a pistol in his hand," the witness told AFP.

The complete death toll in the attack is not yet known — reports range from 19 to at least 30. And Reuters is reporting that the death toll could be as high as 40.

Pakistani Taliban commander Umar Mansoor initially claimed that Taliban militants were responsible for the attack, according to multiple reports, but statements from the group are conflicting. Another Taliban member has reportedly denied its involvement and condemned the attack, The Guardian reports.

The brutal attack echoes another mass shooting at a school in the nearby Pakistani city of Peshawar, which took place in 2014 and saw 130 killed.

The Pakistani Taliban is made up of various Islamist groups, most of whom act under the umbrella title of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TPT). The alliance's stated objectives are to resist the Pakistani state, enforce Sharia law in the country, and unite against NATO-led forces.

In 2012, it was members of the Pakistani Taliban who shot young Malala Yousafzai, an advocate for women's rights to education who was later recognized with a Nobel Peace Prize.

Following Wednesday morning's university attack, Pakistan's prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, gave a statement, quoted by Reuters: "We are determined and resolved in our commitment to wipe out the menace of terrorism from our homeland."

Correction: An earlier version of this story quoted a witness cited in an AFP report as saying an attacker "had a pistol in his hand." The witness was in fact describing Syed Hamid Husain, one of the teachers who fought back against the attackers, according to AFP. Refinery29 regrets the error.
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