A Taliban spokesperson has vowed to try those who masterminded the militant attack on Bacha Khan University in Pakistan's Charsadda town in a Sharia court. The threat follows a prominent Pakistani Taliban top commander, Umar Mansoor, claiming responsibility for the attack.
Shortly after the claims made by Mansoor – who is also the mastermind behind the deadly attack on the Peshawar Army Public School in December 2014 – Taliban spokesperson Muhammad Khorasani denied that the Islamist group carried out the onslaught.
In an email statement sent to media representatives, Khorasani said: "The TTP [Tehreek-i-Taliban] and its amir Maulana Fazaulllah have nothing to do with the attack. We consider these youth studying in non-military educational institutes as our future, they are Muslims and their protection is our responsibility."
"Those people who used the name of the Taliban in the attack will be tried in Sharia courts."
Four gunmen stormed the university in northwest Pakistan randomly spraying bullets on students and staff on 20 January morning. The attack had killed 21 people and left 50 others injured. Even as the coordinated gun and bomb attack was going on, Mansoor warned: "Universities, cadet colleges and army schools will be targeted in Pakistan."
Perplexed Pakistani authorities are still dissecting the contradictory signals sent out by Taliban leaders. The Pakistani army, nevertheless, insist they have gathered the necessary information about all the four assailants.
"When the army reached the premises, all four attackers were alive. They were contained in the hostel and were eventually eliminated on the roof and the stairs. Their call logs were analysed and an intelligence picture was established, with most data having been collected," said Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) director general Lieutenant General Asim Bajwa.
He told reporters: "We have gathered almost all relevant data on who they (attackers) were, from where they came and who supported them." Due to the "sensitive" nature of the information, the ISPR chief said the army is not revealing the exact identities of the gunmen.
Meanwhile, the Islamabad administration has also pledged to step up their counter-terrorism efforts on the heels of the Charsadda attack. A statement issued by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's office read: "The prime minister and the chief of army staff agreed that the war against terrorism and extremism will continue with full might."