ISLAMABAD/ NEW DELHI — At least 12 people, including six students, were killed and 37 injured when Pakistani Taliban disguised as women in burqas attacked a university hostel in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar on Friday.
Three Taliban attackers were killed in a two-hour gunfight with security forces that ensued following the attack. Khyber Pakhtunkwa police chief Salahuddin Khan Mehsud was quoted by news agencies as saying six students, a security guard and five civilians were killed in the attack.
The attackers, three or more, had arrived in a rickshaw at the Agricultural Training Institute, inside the compound of the University of Peshawar. According to the police, they shot and wounded a security guard to gain entry into the hostel. Major general Asif Ghafoor, the army’s spokesperson, said three terrorists had been involved in the attack and all had been killed, but the KP police chief said the identity of a fourth suspected attacker was being confirmed.
According to Peshawar’s deputy commissioner Islam Zeb,two militants took up position on the ground floor while another two were firing at rooms on the first floor. Gunfire and explosions could be heard from the premises throughout the police and army operation while military helicopters hovered over the university for aerial surveillance.
“The militants were wearing suicide jackets packed with ball bearings but none of them could blow themselves up. Three suicide jackets and 20 grenades — all intact — were recovered from the bodies of the terrorists, as well as small arms and ammunition,” Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police chief Mehsud said. Because of Eid Milad-un-Nabi, a Muslim holiday to celebrate the birthday of Prophet Muhammad, most of the students had left for their hometowns. Mehsud said around 150 students were present in two adjacent hostels at the time of the attack.
“The attackers could not enter the second hostel,” he added. The attack was claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an alliance of several Pakistani militant outfit that had carried out large-scale attacks in Peshawar and other cities since its creation in 2007. In a statement, the TTP said its members had attacked a safe house of the spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, a claim denied by security officials who said there was no such facility on the campus.