TIME Pakistan

At Least 19 Dead After Militants Attack University in Northwest Pakistan

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Hasham 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 Jan. 20, 2016.

The number of victims is expected to rise

A group of militants attacked a university in northwest Pakistan on Wednesday, killing at least 19 people and injuring several others.

The attack began shortly after Bacha Khan University in the town of Charsadda had opened for classes Wednesday morning, the Associated Press reported.

The gunmen reportedly entered the university at around 9:30 a.m. local time Wednesday, following which gunfire and at least two explosions were heard.

The victims include security guards, police, students and at least one professor, a rescue team spokesperson told Reuters. A security official added that the number of victims could go up to 40, with local media and other news outlets reporting varying death tolls ranging from 21 to 30.

The Pakistani Taliban extremist group has claimed responsibility for the attack, according to Agence France-Presse.

It is not yet apparent how many attackers are involved in the assault, but army officials reported that four of them have been killed in the operation.

Vice Chancellor Fazal Rahim said the university has 3,000 students and hosted 600 guests for a poetry recitation on Wednesday, which happened to be the death anniversary of the institution’s namesake — Pakistani non-violence advocate Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan.

Charsadda is around 30 miles away from Peshawar, where an attack at an army-run school by Taliban militants just over a year ago killed more than 150 people, the majority of them young children.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned Wednesday’s attack, saying in a statement that the country remains “determined and resolved in our commitment to wipe out the menace of terrorism from our homeland.”

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