Pak mourns university attack victims; over 100 suspects arrested
Pakistan observed a day of mourning today after the bloodbath in Bacha Khan University in this northwestern town where militants killed 21 people, mostly students, before being eliminated by the army.
The national flag was flying on half-mast at all official buildings and all national ceremonies were cancelled. Special prayers were held at several places for the victims.
The provincial Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government has declared three-day mourning starting today.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that his government was determined to wipe out the menace of terrorism from Pakistan.
"The terrorists will see a ruthless response by the state. Cowards and their financiers will see our national resolve to eliminate terror from the country. The entire nation is united and one against terrorism," Sharif stressed.
The Prime Minister has directed all security agencies to hunt down the patrons and financiers of Charsada terror attack, a Prime Minister's Office statement said.
Heavily-armed militants yesterday stormed the Bacha Khan University named after iconic leader Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan alias Bacha Khan and opened fire on students and teachers.
There were over 3,000 students inside the university along with an additional 600 guests who had arrived to attend a poetic symposium to mark the death anniversary of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan who died on January 20, 1988.
Omar Mansoor, Peshawar school attack mastermind and a commander of the Hakimullah Mehsud faction of the Tehreek-e- Taliban Pakistani, claimed responsibility for the assault.
The death toll today rose to 21 as one more student Ayaz succumbed to his injuries at a hospital in Peshawar.
The attack that killed 19 students, a professor and a staffer was a grim reminder of an assault on an army-run school in Peshawar on December, 2014 that killed 150 people, mostly students.
Meanwhile, police today registered an FIR against four unidentified attackers who were killed by security forces. The case was registered at Serdheri police station under the Anti-Terrorism Act on behalf of the Counter-Terrorism Department.
At least 17 suspects, including five facilitators of the varsity attack, were arrested during search operations today in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and FATA, sources said.
The special teams conducted operations in Peshawar, Dara Adamkhel, Khyber Agency and other areas to arrest the terrorists involved in the university attack. The suspects were shifted to an undisclosed location for interrogation.
Separately, the district police today launched search operation in surrounding areas of the university and arrested more than 100 suspects.
Military spokesman Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa said in press conference after clearance operation yesterday that the attackers' handlers have been identified.
He said that no efforts will be spared to eliminate them.
"The attackers were in touch with a number from Afghanistan," Bajwa said. "The terrorists were continuously conversing on their mobile phones, two of which we have recovered and collected data from."
He said the SIMs used in the phones were of Afghan origin and added that a mobile phone recovered from one of the attackers was receiving calls even after he had been killed.
Pakistani government has decided to raise the University attack issue with Afghan government, sources said.
Security has been put on high alert in Charsadda city and surrounding areas after the attack.
Police said that check posts have been set up on all the roads of Charsadda and snap checking is underway.
Heavy contingents of police have been deployed at the university to avoid any untoward incident.
Officials also recovered four grenades, 16 magazines and 240 cartridges from the site of the attack.
Those killed in the attack included Syed Hamid Hussain, a professor at Chemistry department, who had challenged the attackers with his pistol shots.
The victims, mostly students, were being buried in their ancestral graveyards across the province amid touching scenes.
The canteen owner of Bacha Khan University said that all attackers were of short height and sported a light beard.
From their looks, it can be ascertained that the terrorists were even younger than students.
Two out of the four terrorists blew themselves up whereas two others were gunned down by security forces.
According to sources, all four terrorists belonged to Afghanistan and were part of the Tariq Geedar group.
This is the same Tariq Geedar group whose commander 'Omar Naaray' was issuing directives regarding the attack on Army Public School in Peshawar. This group has also been involved in shooting at a PIA plane in Peshawar.
Separately, security forces in Peshawar defused a bomb planted near Lahore Adda. One person was arrested in this connection and shifted to an undisclosed location for interrogation, police said.