PESHAWAR -  Pakistan Army said Saturday that Taliban’s Friday attack at a Peshawar college was guided from Afghanistan, and the issue of militant havens there has been taken up with the Afghan authorities.

Three heavily-armed burqa-clad militants stormed a hostel of Agriculture Training Institute early in the morning, after killing a lone gatekeeper.

They preyed on sleeping students, murdering nine of them and wounding 36 others, before being taken out by security personnel in a two-hour-long operation.

The attack was claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), who after being uprooted from the country in military operations, have found refuge in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Inter-Services Public Relations Director General Major Gen Asif Ghafoor told TV channels that Afghan soil was used for the attack as the terrorists were in contact with their leadership in Afghanistan.

“Afghan Director General Military Operations [DGMO] is visiting Pakistan and substantial evidence of TTP sanctuaries [in Afghanistan] has been handed over to him.”

“Afghanistan has to act against terrorists on its side of the border,” Major Gen Asif said, urging the Afghan government to preserve peace and order in their country.

How it came

Police said the attackers reached the hostel in a rickshaw having fake numbers on the plate and the chassis. The place proved an easy target as no armed personnel was present at the gate. They killed the lone watchman deputed outside and walked into the hostel without any resistance.

Blood smeared the corridor of the dormitory where the gunmen fired at cornered students and lobbed hand grenades, with several victims said to be teenagers hailing from far flung areas who preferred staying at the hostel than going home on the holiday of Eid Miladun Nabi (SAW).

Some students were targeted in their beds, while others were shot at as they came out of their rooms to assess the situation upon hearing gunshots.

“Some students got out to watch the gun-battle and they were shot by the militants,” student Zahid Ullah, 16, told foreign news agency, AFP.

Noor Wali, a 19-year-old student at the institute, who was woken by gunshots, said: “I rushed to the door and saw a fountain of blood pumping out of the shoulder of my roommate who was standing outside the room.”

Noor and another student rushed to his aid, and hid from the gunmen for almost an hour before they were rescued by security forces.

“The other student was pressing the wound with his hands to stop the blood and I had to put my hand on his mouth so that he cannot scream,” he said.

“We took shelter inside the bedroom and were begging the injured student not to make any sound as the terrorists might hear it and kill us.”

Police operation

Soon after the attack police reached the site and started an operation, which was joined by other security forces.

“All of them were wearing suicide vests but they were killed before they could blow themselves up,” said Salahuddin Khan Mehsud, police chief of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Police recovered a huge quantity of unspent ammunition and explosives from the scene. The officials said the terrorists could use only around 20 percent of the deadly material they had brought with them.

Shedding light on the operation, ISPR chief Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor commended Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police for their timely response and competency. He said the police took effective measures while initiating the operation which minimised the loss.

Video of attack

During the onslaught, TTP spokesman Muhammad Khurasani claimed responsibility for the attack in a telephone call to AFP.

“Our mujahids have attacked the building because it was used as office for ISI, God willing our fighters will fight till the last drop of blood,” he said, referring to Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence agency.

Hours after the attack , the Taliban sent video footage shot during the assault to journalists. In the two-minute video, Taliban gunmen in white shalwar kameez (traditional Pakistani dress) are seen storming the building and shouting “Allahu Akbar” (“God is greatest”) as they walk through a corridor.

“Is this the ISI office?” one of them asks as they enter a room and start shooting, at which point the video ends.

A photograph of the attackers sitting with their leader Mullah Fazlullah was also sent to the media along with the video clip.

 

 

Victims details

The trapped students were evacuated in armoured vehicles while the injured were shifted by Rescue 1122 and Edhi ambulances to nearby hospitals.

According to the administration, 18 injured were under treatment at Hayatabad Medical Complex while 18 others were admitted in Khyber Teaching Hospital.

ISPR chief in his TV talk said the injured included two policemen and a journalist who were shifted to Khyber Teaching Hospital.

As for the deceased students, incidentally the first name of three of them was Bilal: Bilal Ahmad s/o Hussain Ahmad, resident of Shangla, Bilal s/o Khairul Basar, from Lower Dir and Bilal s/o Mohammad Arif, from Mansehra.

The others were identified as Amin Jan s/o Saifur Rahman, from Bannu, Sarzamin s/o Bakht Zamin Shah, from Buner, Muhammad Waseem s/o Qudrat Hussain, from Orakzai Agency, Abdul Sadiq s/o Mussa Khan, from Kohistan, Qasim Ali s/o Abdullah Shah, from DI Khan, and Abdul Hameed s/o Abdul Waheed, from Peshawar .

 

 

 

Condemnations and compensation

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Inspector General of Police Salahuddin Mehsud expressed deep concern over the loss of precious lives, however, praised the rapid response of Peshawar police for minimise the loss.

KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak also condemned the gruesome incident and expressed heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families.

He said that the attacker took advantage of the off-day and the early morning when police were just reaching for their duty stations.

Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal reached Peshawar and visited the injured at Hayatabad Medical Complex and Khyber Teaching Hospital.

He directed the authorities to tighten the security measures across the country to thwart such incident in the future.

He announced compensation of one million rupees for the martyred persons. Rs 0.5 million were announced for critically injured and 0.2 million for the slightly injured.

 

 

 

Security and military talks with Afghans

The area where the incident occurred is a hub of educational institutions, including the University of Peshawar .

The attack bore striking similarities to a 2014 Taliban massacre at the army-run school in Peshawar that killed 151 people, mostly schoolchildren.

Security in the area has improved drastically following the school attack after multiple military operations targeting militants in the nearby tribal belt largely succeeded in breaking insurgent strongholds and pushing fighters across the border. However, sporadic attacks continue to target security installations and civilians in the area.

A 7-member high level Afghan military delegation headed by Afghan Chief of General Staff General Mohammad Habib Hesary is engaged in talks with Pakistani counterparts on anti-terror cooperation and border management.

The delegation, arrived in Islamabad on Thursday, includes high ranking officials from Afghan defence and foreign ministries as well as the intelligence agency, National Directorate of Security (NDS), according to the Afghan Embassy.

For Pakistan Army border management is one of the key issues being taken up with the Afghan side. Security officials insist that the outlawed TTP and Jamaat-ul-Ahrar use their sanctuaries in the Afghan border regions.

At least five Pakistani security personnel lost their lives in a series of attacks over the past two months on the border posts in Rajgal Valley in Khyber and Bajaur tribal region by militants operating from the Afghan side, according to Pakistan army.

 

Afghan soil used in

Peshawar university attack