A suicide assault team from a faction of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP, or Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan) launched an attack on Bacha Khan University in Charsadda district, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Jan. 20, killing more than 20 students and faculty before security forces intervened to end the siege. Four jihadists dressed in military uniforms and armed with AK-47 rifles and suicide vests opened fire indiscriminately, but were killed before they could detonate their vests. The attack came as students were gathered for a poetry recital in honor of the independence hero for whom the school is named, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan or "Bacha Khan" by his popular honorific, also known as the "Frontier Gandhi"—an advocate of non-violence and opponent of India's partition. The school was likely targeted to oppose his legacy, as well as because it is co-educational.
The attack was claimed by Taliban commander Khalifa Umar Mansour AKA Umar Narey, who masterminded the massacre at a military school in Peshawar just over a year ago, as well as the attack on Badabair air-base near the same city last September. Pointing to factionalism in the movement, a spokesman for the TTP's "emir," Mullah Fazlullah, condemned the new attack, terming it "against sharia." (Long War Journal, Dawn, Jan. 20)
More terror in Pakistan
An Easter Sunday suicide bomb targeting Christians gathered in a park in Lahore killed at least 70 people—including some 30 children. Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, said to be a hardline breakaway faction of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack. (Reuters)