Students Protest Insecurity as Campus Reopens after Taliban Attack

Students at Bacha Khan University in Pakistan's volatile northwest protested over a lack of security, after an attack last week that killed at least 20 people. REUTERS/Fayaz Aziz

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Jan 25 – Students at the Pakistani university where Taliban militants killed 21 people last week protested on Monday over a lack of security as authorities reopened the campus in the country’s volatile northwest.

Four Pakistani Taliban gunmen stormed the Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, located about 130 km (81 miles) west of the capital Islamabad, on Wednesday, firing automatic rifles and throwing grenades as they raided classrooms and hostels.

At least 200 students gathered on the grounds of the university on Monday after the gates opened, shouting slogans against both the government and the Taliban.

“You must protect us!” they shouted, while also vowing to continue their education despite the threats.

There were to be no classes at the university on Monday, as administrators, students and teachers met to review security needs in the wake of the attack, officials told Reuters.

“Some people aren’t going to the university today as they have serious concerns about the incident and their personal security and that of the students,” a teacher at the university said, on condition of anonymity.

Pakistani authorities say the attack was planned and orchestrated by Pakistani Taliban militants based in neighbouring Afghanistan, and has called on the Afghan government to co-operate in its investigation.

Afghan officials have often blamed Pakistan for harbouring Afghan Taliban leaders and allege that many attacks in Afghanistan were planned on Pakistani soil.

The Pakistani Taliban is separate from, but allied with, the Afghan Taliban, and has been waging an insurgency against the Pakistani state since 2007.

Five suspects have so far been arrested in Pakistan for acting as “facilitators” to the attack, Pakistan’s army spokesman said on Saturday.

Pakistan arrested hundreds of suspected militants in a crackdown following the massacre of 134 children at a Peshawar school in December 2014, but the security forces’ effectiveness has been questioned in the wake of the latest attack.

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