Pakistan mourns university massacre

Pakistan mourns university massacre

Pakistan mourns university massacre

AFP photo

Pakistan observed a day of national mourning on Jan. 21 for the 21 people killed when heavily-armed gunmen stormed a university in the troubled northwest, exposing the failings in a national crackdown on extremism.

Armed police, some perched on the roofs of buildings, were still deployed on the morning of Jan. 21 at the Bacha Khan University campus in Charsadda, where students were targeted with grenades and automatic weapons, an AFP reporter said.

Security forces remained on alert, with police foiling a bomb attack at a crowded bus station in nearby Peshawar the same morning.

The assault, claimed by a faction of the Pakistani Taliban, bore a chilling resemblance to a December 2014 massacre at a school in nearby Peshawar that triggered a crackdown on militants that had been credited with a palpable improvement in security.

Around 1,000 people in a nearby village attended the funeral on Jan. 21 of a university caretaker killed.

“I want to tell the terrorists, they can never win, they will lose, we will win, we the followers of peace and not terrorism,” Shah Hussain, father of the caretaker Fakhr-e-Alam, told AFP.  

One of the wounded students, a geology major, died overnight and his funeral was also being held on Jan. 21. The majority of the dead were buried on Jan. 20 in accordance with Muslim tradition. 

Seven other survivors were in stable condition and being treated in local hospitals, officials said.

Defiant authorities kept schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province open Jan. 21.

“Militants want them shut down,” provincial education minister Arif Khan told AFP. “We wanted to send the message that education will continue.” 

Only Bacha Khan University and its sister university Abdul Wali Khan in the town of Mardan were closed, he said.