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Pakistan university attacked: 19 killed by 'Taliban' gunmen

Published 20/01/2016

Pakistani army soldiers carry a victim at Bacha Khan university following an attack by militants in Charsadda, about 50 kilometres from Peshawar, on January 20, 2016. At least 21 people died in an armed assault on a university in Pakistan on January 20, where witnesses reported two large explosions as security forces moved in under dense fog to halt the bloodshed. AFP PHOTO / A MAJEEDA Majeed/AFP/Getty Images
Pakistani army soldiers carry a victim at Bacha Khan university following an attack by militants in Charsadda, about 50 kilometres from Peshawar, on January 20, 2016. At least 21 people died in an armed assault on a university in Pakistan on January 20, where witnesses reported two large explosions as security forces moved in under dense fog to halt the bloodshed. AFP PHOTO / A MAJEEDA Majeed/AFP/Getty Images
Pakistani army soldiers rescue people from Bacha Khan university following an attack by militants in Charsadda, about 50 kilometres from Peshawar, on January 20, 2016. At least 21 people died in an armed assault on a university in Pakistan on January 20, where witnesses reported two large explosions as security forces moved in under dense fog to halt the bloodshed. AFP PHOTO / A MAJEEDA Majeed/AFP/Getty Images
A Pakistani army soldier searches a room covered in blood at Bacha Khan university following an attack by militants in Charsadda, about 50 kilometres from Peshawar, on January 20, 2016. At least 21 people died in an armed assault on a university in Pakistan on January 20, where witnesses reported two large explosions as security forces moved in under dense fog to halt the bloodshed. AFP PHOTO / A MAJEEDA Majeed/AFP/Getty Images
Pakistani rescuers shift an injured man into a hospital following an attack by gunmen at Bacha Khan university in Charsadda, about 50 kilometres from Peshawar, on January 20, 2016. At least 21 people died in an armed assault on a university in Pakistan on January 20, where witnesses reported two large explosions as security forces moved in under dense fog to halt the bloodshed. AFP PHOTO /Hasham AHMEDHASHAM AHMED/AFP/Getty Images
Pakistani police and onlookers gather in front of a hospital following an attack by gunmen at Bacha Khan university in Charsadda, about 50 kilometres from Peshawar, on January 20, 2016. At least 21 people died in an armed assault on a university in Pakistan on January 20, where witnesses reported two large explosions as security forces moved in under dense fog to halt the bloodshed. AFP PHOTO /Hasham AHMEDHASHAM AHMED/AFP/Getty Images
Pakistani rescuers shift an injured man at a hospital following an attack by gunmen at Bacha Khan university in Charsadda, about 50 kilometres from Peshawar, on January 20, 2016. At least 21 people died in an armed assault on a university in Pakistan on January 20, where witnesses reported two large explosions as security forces moved in under dense fog to halt the bloodshed. AFP PHOTO /Hasham AHMEDHASHAM AHMED/AFP/Getty Images
An ambulance carrying injured victims enters a hospital following an attack by gunmen at Bacha Khan university in Charsadda, about 50 kilometres from Peshawar, on January 20, 2016. At least 21 people died in an armed assault on a university in Pakistan on January 20, where witnesses reported two large explosions as security forces moved in under dense fog to halt the bloodshed. AFP PHOTO / Hasham AHMEDHASHAM AHMED/AFP/Getty Images
Pakistani troops arrive at Bacha Khan University in Charsadda town, some 35 kilometers (21 miles) outside the city of Peshawar, Pakistan, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016. Gunmen stormed Bacha Khan University named after the founder of an anti-Taliban political party in the country's northwest Wednesday, killing some people, officials said. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)
An ambulance transports the body of a victim while Pakistani troops gather at the main gate of Bacha Khan University in Charsadda town, some 35 kilometers (21 miles) outside the city of Peshawar, Pakistan, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016. Gunmen stormed Bacha Khan University named after the founder of an anti-Taliban political party in the country's northwest Wednesday, killing some people, officials said. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)
Pakistani rescuers carry coffins at a hospital following an attack by gunment at Bacha Khan university in Charsadda, about 50 kilometres from Peshawar, on January 20, 2016. Gunmen have attacked a university in northwestern Pakistan, injuring at least three people, and are still on the rampage, security and school officials told AFP in the latest assault to hit the militant-infested region. AFP PHOTO / Hasham AHMEDHASHAM AHMED/AFP/Getty Images
Pakistani rescue workers carry an injured student on arrival at a hospital following an attack by gunmen at Bacha Khan university in Charsadda, about 50 kilometres from Peshawar, on January 20, 2016. At least 21 people died in an armed assault on a university in Pakistan on January 20, where witnesses reported two large explosions as security forces moved in under dense fog to halt the bloodshed. AFP PHOTO / Hasham AHMEDHASHAM AHMED/AFP/Getty Images
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 January 20, 2016. At least 21 people died in an armed assault on a university in Pakistan on January 20, where witnesses reported two large explosions as security forces moved in under dense fog to halt the bloodshed. AFP PHOTO /Hasham AHMEDHASHAM AHMED/AFP/Getty Images
Pakistani troops clear way for an ambulance transporting a lifeless body of a victim from Bacha Khan University in Charsadda town, some 35 kilometers (21 miles) outside the city of Peshawar, Pakistan, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016. Gunmen stormed Bacha Khan University named after the founder of an anti-Taliban political party in the country's northwest Wednesday, killing many people, officials said. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)
Pakistani troops and rescue workers gather at the main gate of Bacha Khan University in Charsadda town, some 35 kilometers (21 miles) outside the city of Peshawar, Pakistan, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016. Gunmen stormed Bacha Khan University named after the founder of an anti-Taliban political party in the country's northwest Wednesday, killing several people, officials said. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)
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 January 20, 2016. At least 21 people died in an armed assault on a university in Pakistan on January 20, where witnesses reported two large explosions as security forces moved in under dense fog to halt the bloodshed. AFP PHOTO /Hasham AHMEDHASHAM AHMED/AFP/Getty Images
A Pakistan army helicopter flies over the Bacha Khan University, which is under attack by gumen in Charsadda town, some 35 kilometers (21 miles) outside the city of Peshawar, Pakistan, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016. Gunmen stormed Bacha Khan University named after the founder of an anti-Taliban political party in the country's northwest Wednesday, killing many people, officials said. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)
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 January 20, 2016. At least 21 people died in an armed assault on a university in Pakistan on January 20, where witnesses reported two large explosions as security forces moved in under dense fog to halt the bloodshed. AFP PHOTO /Hasham AHMEDHASHAM AHMED/AFP/Getty Images
This video still image taken from Dunya News/ WAQAT News shows police and emergency personnel outside Bacha Khan University, the scene of a shooting on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016 in Charsadda,, Pakistan. Police say gunmen stormed the university, killing a professor and several others. Police and army exchanged gunfire with the attackers and several explosions were heard from the area of the Bacha Khan University, about 21 miles from Peshawar. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. (Dunya News/ WAQAT News via AP)
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 January 20, 2016. At least 21 people died in an armed assault on a university in Pakistan on January 20, where witnesses reported two large explosions as security forces moved in under dense fog to halt the bloodshed. AFP PHOTO / A MAJEEDA Majeed/AFP/Getty Images
This video still image taken from Dunya News/ WAQAT News shows police and emergency personnel outside Bacha Khan University, the scene of a shooting on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016 in Charsadda,, Pakistan. Police say gunmen stormed the university, killing a professor and several others. Police and army exchanged gunfire with the attackers and several explosions were heard from the area of the Bacha Khan University, about 21 miles from Peshawar. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. (Dunya News/ WAQAT News via AP)
This video still image taken from Dunya News/ WAQAT News shows police and emergency personnel outside Bacha Khan University, the scene of a shooting on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016 in Charsadda,, Pakistan. Police say gunmen stormed the university, killing a professor and several others. Police and army exchanged gunfire with the attackers and several explosions were heard from the area of the Bacha Khan University, about 21 miles from Peshawar. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. (Dunya News/ WAQAT News via AP)
This video still image taken from Dunya News/ WAQAT News shows police and emergency personnel outside Bacha Khan University, the scene of a shooting on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016 in Charsadda, Pakistan. Police say gunmen stormed the university, killing a professor and several others. Police and army exchanged gunfire with the attackers and several explosions were heard from the area of the Bacha Khan University, about 21 miles from Peshawar. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. (Dunya News/ WAQAT News via AP)
A Pakistani army armoured vehicle (R) enters the Bacha Khan university following an attack by gunmen in Charsadda, about 50 kilometres from Peshawar, on January 20, 2016. At least 21 people died in an armed assault on a university in Pakistan on January 20, where witnesses reported two large explosions as security forces moved in under dense fog to halt the bloodshed. AFP PHOTO / A MAJEEDA Majeed/AFP/Getty Images
Pakistani rescuers shift an injured victim at a hospital following an attack by gunmen in the Bacha Khan university in Charsadda, about 50 kilometres from Peshawar, on January 20, 2016. At least 21 people died in an armed assault on a university in Pakistan on January 20, where witnesses reported two large explosions as security forces moved in under dense fog to halt the bloodshed. AFP PHOTO / A MAJEEDA Majeed/AFP/Getty Images
Pakistani rescuers shift an injured victim outside the Bacha Khan university following an attack by gunmen in Charsadda, about 50 kilometres from Peshawar, on January 20, 2016. Gunmen have attacked a university in northwestern Pakistan, injuring at least three people, and are still on the rampage, security and school officials told AFP in the latest assault to hit the militant-infested region. AFP PHOTO / A MAJEEDA Majeed/AFP/Getty Images
This photograph taken from a mobile phone shows Pakistani security personnel taking position outside the Bacha Khan university following an attack by gunmen in Charsadda, about 50 kilometres from Peshawar, on January 20, 2016. Gunmen have attacked a university in northwestern Pakistan, injuring at least three people, and are still on the rampage, security and school officials told AFP in the latest assault to hit the militant-infested region. AFP PHOTO / A MAJEEDA Majeed/AFP/Getty Images
This photograph taken from a mobile phone shows Pakistani security personnel taking position outside the Bacha Khan university following an attack by gunmen in Charsadda, about 50 kilometres from Peshawar, on January 20, 2016. Gunmen have attacked a university in northwestern Pakistan, injuring at least three people, and are still on the rampage, security and school officials told AFP in the latest assault to hit the militant-infested region. AFP PHOTO / A MAJEEDA Majeed/AFP/Getty Images

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for a gun attack on a university in Pakistan, killing at least 19 people.

Police and army officials exchanged gunfire with the attackers and several explosions were heard from the area of Bacha Khan University in the town of Charsadda, 20 miles from Peshawar.

Pakistani TV stations broadcast footage showing a heavy military presence at the university, troops rushing in and people fleeing. Ambulances were at the scene and the wounded were being taken to hospital.

Police official Tariq Khan said the assault began shortly after the university opened on Wednesday morning.

The Bacha Khan University is named after the founder of a liberal, anti-Taliban political party. The Pakistani Taliban has in the past targeted the party for its anti-militant policies.

The Pakistani army said the attackers have been contained and four of them have been killed.

The brazen assault harked back to a December 2014 Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar that killed more than 150 people, mostly children.

Deputy commissioner Tahir Zafar said a chemistry professor and at least one student were among those killed.

Pakistan's north west and its lawless tribal regions bordering Afghanistan is a highly volatile region. Pakistani forces have been carrying out a major operation against the Taliban and other militants there since 2014.

Last month, as the country marked the first anniversary of the Peshawar school attack, the military claimed "phenomenal successes" in the war and said it had killed around 3,500 insurgents since launching the operation.

The school attack, which was claimed by the Pakistani Taliban, horrified the country and led the government to lift a 2008 moratorium on the death penalty. Pakistan hanged four militants last month who were sentenced to death over the attack.

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