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Pakistani Forces Gain Control Of University After Gunmen Attack


We now have an eye-witness description of a Pakistani university that was attacked by gunmen today. The university is in a city called Charsadda, which is near the border with Afghanistan. It's been the scene of attacks before. And when gunmen struck this university they left around 20 people dead, including some of the attackers we are told. Guardian reporter Jonathan Boone was on the scene at Bacha Khan University. He's on the phone. What did you see?

JONATHAN BOONE: Well, there's clear evidence of this horrific attack, which is really focused in two of the boys hostels at this co-educational university. And you can see where the individual bedrooms, the dorms, have been smashed in by the attackers. Some of the students attempted to barricade themselves in. And I'm told by some that the attackers would call through the doors claiming to be from the Pakistani army, claiming to be coming to rescue them, but actually there to kill them. We also saw the back wall, the rather poorly defended back wall of this campus, that despite the threats to educational institutions was really very easy for these men - these four we think militants - to clamber over and simply push away the barb wire to gain access to this campus.

INSKEEP: OK, you said that it's believed that there were four attackers. We've also heard reports that it's believed that four attackers were killed. Is that what you're hearing? And do authorities believe they have everyone?

BOONE: That's correct. The Pakistani Taliban put out a statement claiming responsibility and they named four attackers. And the Pakistani army has said that they killed four attackers. The campus was essentially opened up to the great scrums of the Pakistani media a few hours ago. So, yes, as far as the authorities are concerned, it's now a secure area.

INSKEEP: Well, let me ask about that because you mentioned a wall, you mentioned the defenses are poor defenses of this university. This is a country where people are on the alert for terrorism, where you have guards with guns everywhere. Do you have any sense of how well-guarded this university was before the attack?

BOONE: Well, it has an extremely imposing and impressive front wall, but the back walls are, as I say, really not so difficult to climb over. What's interesting is you can actually see evidence on this back wall of where it was heightened after the attack - you might remember - a year ago on the Army Public School in Peshawar...

INSKEEP: Oh, yeah.

BOONE: ...In which 130-plus pupils were massacred by this same group. After that, the government ordered all educational institutions to build walls and to increase the defense. And you can see where this has happened. A five-foot wall has gone up to nine foot, and they put some barb wire on the top. But it just wasn't remotely adequate to stopping a few people climbing over.

INSKEEP: Well, Mr. Boone, thank you very much for your help. Appreciate it.

BOONE: Thank you.

INSKEEP: Jonathan Boone is a reporter for The Guardian. He is in Charsadda, Pakistan, a city in the northwestern part of the country where gunmen attacked a university today, killing around 20 people. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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