Security forces in Pakistan are battling militants who stormed Bacha Khan University in the town of Charsadda in an early morning attack on Wednesday (20 January). Pakistan's Tehreek-e-Taliban has reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack.
Security forces are battling the militants and heavy fog is thought to be impeding the operation. More personnel are also expected to be deployed to tackle the situation. Local reports said several people, including the university guards, have been injured.
Unconfirmed reports suggest two of the gunmen were shot dead and up to 20 students were injured as an intense gunfight is ongoing. A police official said other attackers were thought to be still holding out on the second and third floors of campus buildings at the university. Multiple explosions were also reported prior to the gunfire. Local reports suggest anywhere between four and seven armed men entered the university buildings by scaling the walls.
Pakistan's Dawn News had cited a rescue official as suggesting dozens of students were shot in the head, giving a grim reminder of the Peshawar school attack in December 2014. The claim has not been independently verified. "Seven people have been killed so far and casualties are feared to rise. 90% of the university has been cleared," a rescue personnel spokesperson said.
The university's vice-chancellor Fazal Rahim was quoted as saying by the Pakistani daily The News that around 3,000 students were inside the university when the militants attacked. There were an additional 600 guests who had arrived at the university to participate in an event.
Charsadda is a small town located 29km from Peshawar, the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Pakistani forces had earlier conducted a major raid in the area arresting four key militants and seizing a large cache of arms.