Vigils have been held in Peshawar and elsewhere in Pakistan for at least 21 people killed in a university attack.
Four suspected attackers also died in Wednesday’s assault on Bacha Khan University in Charsadda. Military spokesman Lt Gen Asim Bajwa told reporters that major breakthroughs had been made in identifying the attackers but did not name them. One Pakistani Taliban commander said the group carried out the assault, but its main spokesman denied this. The group killed 130 students at a school in Peshawar in 2014.
A security official said the death toll could rise to as high as 40 at Bacha Khan University in the city of Charsadda. The army said it had concluded operations to clear the campus six hours after the attack began, and that four gunmen were dead. A spokesman for rescue workers, Bilal Ahmad Faizi, said 19 bodies had been recovered including students, guards, policemen and at least one teacher, named by media as chemistry professor Syed Hamid Husain. Husain reportedly shot back at the gunmen with a pistol to allow his students to flee. Many of the dead were apparently shot in the head execution-style, TV footage showed. The militants, using the cover of thick, wintry fog, scaled the walls of the university on Wednesday morning before entering buildings and opening fire on students and teachers in classrooms and hostels, police said. Students told media they saw several young men wielding AK-47 guns storming the university housing where many students were sleeping. Thirty five of the wounded remain in hospital, a local police official said late on Wednesday.