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Summary

  1. Gunmen have attacked Bacha Khan University near Peshawar
  2. At least 19 people have been killed, police say
  3. Four gunmen have been killed and the firing has stopped
  4. Taliban spokesman denies responsibility, contradicting earlier claim
  5. About 3,000 students are enrolled at the university
  6. All times GMT

Live Reporting

By Tom Spender, Joel Gunter and Tessa Wong

All times stated are UK

Summary

We are going to pause our live coverage here for now. Below is a summary of what we know so far. You can follow developments on our main news story: 

Pakistan Charsadda: Deadly assault on university

What we know so far

  • An attack by suspected Taliban militants on a university in north-west Pakistan has killed at least 19 people and injured 50.
  • An army official said the attack was over but troops were still searching Bacha Khan University campus in Charsadda.
  • Four attackers were killed, the army reported.
  • A senior Pakistan Taliban commander claimed the group was responsible for the attack but the main spokesman for the group later denied that it was involved.
  • Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said: "We are determined and resolved in our commitment to wipe out the menace of terrorism from our homeland."  

Conflicting claims of responsibility for attack

M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad

There have been conflicting claims about who was behind the attack, with a senior Taliban commander initially claiming responsibility, only for the group's main spokesman to deny any involvement.

The confusion is perhaps no surprise, given a kaleidoscopic mix of militant networks along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region in the north.

The attack comes amid a sudden spike in militant violence in Pakistan, after a year of relative peace and quiet attributed to a 2014 military operation against militants in Waziristan. 

Questions are now being raised over whether that operation really destroyed the ability of militants to regroup and strike at will.

This attack is reminiscent of the December 2014 attack on a school in Peshawar, in which more than 150 people, mostly schoolboys, were killed. Damage to life and property this time has been much less, partly due to swift action by the local police but also because the university had its own team of more than 50 trained security guards.

A dense fog that reduced visibility to less than 10 metres may also have been a factor.

Pakistani army soldiers rescue people from Bacha Khan university following an attack by militants in Charsadda
AFP/Getty

Opposition leader Imran Khan condemns 'cowardly attack'

Imran Khan, head of the opposition PTI which governs Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, has described the attack as "cowardly".

The cricketer-turned-politician is travelling to the scene.

Strongly condemn cowardly terrorist attack on Bacha Khan Uni Charsadda today. The nation stands united & resolute against terrorism.

Student: 'My friend jumped from a building during the attack'

A witness told local TV how a friend leapt from a high window to escape the militants, who were chanting "Allah is the greatest".

Pakistani student: 'Friend leapt from building' during university attack

What we know so far

  • An attack by suspected Taliban militants on a university in north-west Pakistan has killed at least 19 people and injured 50.
  • An army official said the attack was over but troops were still searching Bacha Khan University campus in Charsadda.
  • Four attackers were killed, the army reported.
  • A senior Pakistan Taliban commander claimed the group was responsible for the attack but the main spokesman for the group later denied that it was involved.
  • Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said: "We are determined and resolved in our commitment to wipe out the menace of terrorism from our homeland."  

Pakistani police officers clear the way for an ambulance to arrive at Bacha Khan University in Charsadda town
AP

BreakingPakistan Taliban spokesman denies group carried out attack

The main spokesman for the Pakistan Taliban - the TTP - has denied that the group carried out the attack.

In a statement, Mohammad Khurasani described the attack as "un-Islamic" and said the group would hold people accountable for using its name.

His statement contradicts a senior Pakistan Taliban commander, who earlier claimed that the group was responsible for the attack.

Tributes paid to 'hero' chemistry professor who 'fought back'

Twitter users in Pakistan and beyond have been paying tribute to Syed Hamid Hussain, a Chemistry professor at the university who reportedly fired back at the militants before he was shot dead.

Chemistry professor Syed Hamid Hussain hailed a hero after firing back against the militants before being shot dead.

Chemistry professor Syed Hamid Hussain hailed a hero after firing back against the militants before being shot dead.

Photo of Professor Hamid Hussain, martyred in terrorist attack on Bacha Khan University | geo.tv/latest/100438

Photo of Professor Hamid Hussain, martyred in terrorist attack on Bacha Khan University | geo.tv/latest/100438

Martyred Astt Professor Hamid Hussain is survived by a son, a daughter and young widow: a cousin #BachaKhanUniversity attack

Indian PM Modi condemns attack

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has condemned the attack and sent his condolences to the families of the victims.

View more on twitter

University was 'soft target'

ARY News' online editor Omar Qurashi has told the BBC that the university appears to have been chosen because it was an easy target:

It's a soft target, it's a private university in a town that's not in one of the major cities in the country where security measures have gone up.... So I think it's been chosen for that reason and to send a message again.

Because of the military's on-going operation against the Taliban in the tribal areas. They're trying to send a message to them that 'You're still vulnerable'.

An ambulance carrying injured victims enters a hospital following an attack by gunmen at Bacha Khan university in Charsadda
AFP/Getty

Geo TV: Imran Khan condemns attacks

Imran Khan, the leader of the PTI party which rules the area where the university is located, has condemned the attack, Geo TV reports.

"I am going to Charsadda myself, and will review the situation myself. We are united against terrorism and all of Pakistan is on [the same] page," he told reporters.

View more on twitter

Charsadda trending on Twitter

The hashtags #Charsadda and #BachaKhanUniversity have been trending among Pakistani Twitter users as the country reacts:

View more on twitter

'We saw three terrorists'

AFP have quoted a student who was speaking to Pakistani TV:

We saw three terrorists shouting, 'Allah is great!' and rushing towards the stairs of our department...One student jumped out of the classroom through the window. We never saw him get up

The student also described seeing a chemistry professor holding a pistol and firing at the attackers.  

Then we saw him fall down and as the terrorists entered the office we ran away

More on the Taliban claim

AFP say they have spoken to a Pakistani Taliban commander, who says his group was behind the attack. Speaking by telephone from an undisclosed location, Umar Mansoor said it was in response to a military offensive against extremists in the tribal areas.  

Our four suicide attackers carried out the attack on Bacha Khan University today

Umar MansoorTehreek-e-Taliban Pakistani (TTP) leader

Govt asks media not to reveal troop movements

Pakistan's media regulator Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has asked the media not to reveal the movements of security personnel or students, Radio Pakistan reports.

#BachaKhanUniAttack PEMRA directs all media channels not to identify movement of security personnel, students while covering the event.

'Inadequate security' at university

Parents are saying that security arrangements at Bacha Khan University were not good enough, according to Reuters Pakistan correspondent Mehreen Zahra-Malik.

Many parents saying inadequate security arrangements at #BachaKhanUniversity entrance even though KP province under red alert. #Pakistan

#Pakistan has highest number of people killed by country (450) in #school attacks; #Russia follows with 361 killed dawn.com/news/1222915/w…

Injured evacuated to nearby hospital

Pakistani rescuers shift an injured man to a hospital following an attack by gunmen in the Bacha Khan university in Charsadda, about 50 kilometres from Peshawar, on 20 January 2016.
AFP/Getty Images

AFP: Taliban claim attack

The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack, AFP reports.

Local Pakistani media have also reported the Taliban claim.

In shock

People react following the attack.

People react outside Bacha Khan University where an attack by militants took place, in Charsadda
Reuters

'Intense gunfire' at university

The BBC's Shahzeb Jillani has more details on the attack:

The gunmen entered the university by climbing over the back wall. Intense gunfire and explosions were heard as security guards fought the attackers. Students and staff ran to find cover in bathrooms and examination halls.

By the time police and Pakistani army commandos arrived, several students and staff members were dead and dozens of others wounded. Most people have now been evacuated. The army says it is conducting a search operation to clear the area.

At least four people seriously hurt

At least four seriously injured people have been rushed to Peshawar's Lady Reading hospital, the BBC's Ilyas Khan reports.