ucanews.com reporter, Charsadda
Updated: January 20, 2016 10:40 AM GMT
Pakistani rescuers shift an injured man to a hospital following an attack by gunmen at the Bacha Khan University in Charsadda on Jan. 20. (Photo by Hasham Ahmed/AFP)
Church leaders have condemned the "despicable" attack by suspected Taliban gunmen on a major university in northwest Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The Jan. 20 attack on Bacha Khan University in Charsadda town left at least 30 students dead. Media reported that the Taliban militant group claimed responsibility.
Father Emmanuel Yousuf, director of the church's National Justice and Peace Commission, condemned the "despicable" attack.
"The Catholic Church in Pakistan expresses full solidarity with the victims and prays that peace will prevail in the country," he said.
"Our army is already engaged in a major operation against terrorism in Wazirsitan and other parts of the country. We can only hope that terrorists are dealt with an iron hand in order to restore a lasting peace in the country," he said.
Church of Pakistan Bishop Humphrey Peters of Peshawar also condemned the attack in Charsadda.
"We stand in solidarity with the families of the students and faculty members killed in the attack," he told ucanews.com.
Mushtaq Ghani, spokesman of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, said four terrorists entered the university and attacked a hostel for boys.
"The university has its own 54 security guards. But terrorists managed to sneak in taking advantage of dense fog and cold weather," Ghani said.
However, timely action by security forces saved many lives, he said.
Muhammad Ikram, director of the university's crisis management department, said the gunmen targeted the Arts and Humanity building and main boys hostel.
"Terrorists broke doors of hostel rooms and shot and slaughtered many students," he said.
Bilal Zaidi, a spokesman of the Punjab emergency service, said more than 100 students and faculty members were safely rescued from the university.
Some terrified students fainted while trying to escape the massacre, he said.
The university has both male and female students and staff. Media reported that there were at least 3,000 staff and students at the university during the time of the attack.
Lt. Gen. Asim Bajwa, chief spokesman of the Pakistan army, tweeted that four terrorists were killed by security troops.
A senior police official told media persons in Charsadda the four terrorists were between 18-20-years-old and armed with automatic assault weapons.
This is the second major attack on an educational institution by terrorists since the Dec. 16, 2013, assault on a military school in Peshawar.
Some 150 people, mostly young students were killed when the Taliban attacked the Army Public School.
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