Pakistan buries last of university massacre victims

By AFP January 21, 2016 22:27

Pakistan buries last of university massacre victims

The country also held a day of mourning for those who died at Bacha Khan university on Wednesday, with residents and officials visiting the homes of victims’ relatives to pay their respects in the town of Charsadda and villages nearby.

At the home of a chemistry professor who died firing at the gunmen to hold them back from his students, his brother Sajjad Hussain told AFP that the man hailed as a hero had been “soft”.

“He could not stand the sight of blood,” he said. “As a child he would faint whenever he saw blood.”

Around 1,000 people in a nearby village attended the funeral of a university caretaker killed in the assault, claimed by a faction of the Pakistani Taliban, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistani (TTP).

“I want to tell the terrorists, they can never win, they will lose, we will win, we the followers of peace and not terrorism,” Shah Hussain, father of the caretaker Fakhr-e-Alam, told AFP.

The caretaker’s son, ten-year-old Mustafa Kamal, told AFP his father had always told him he must study hard.

“I will study hard,” he vowed, “join the army to defend my land and revenge the death of my father by terrorists.”

One of the wounded students, a geology major, died overnight and his funeral was also held Thursday. The majority of the dead were buried swiftly on Wednesday in accordance with Muslim tradition.

Security forces remained on alert throughout the day, with police foiling a bomb attack at a crowded bus station in Peshawar, some 50 kilometres (30 miles) from Charsadda.

Police remained at the gates of the university Thursday evening, which saw a stream of visits from local politicians and leaders throughout the day.

‘Ruthless’ response

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has vowed a “ruthless” response to the massacre and ordered security forces to hunt those behind the attack.

Authorities arrested 50 suspects from the area surrounding the university, the district police chief told AFP, as the military spokesman said on Twitter the attack had been masterminded by a TTP operative from Afghanistan.

Defiant authorities kept schools open in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on Thursday — the area where the university is located.

“Militants want them shut down,” provincial education minister Arif Khan told AFP. “We wanted to send the message that education will continue.”

Only Bacha Khan university and its sister university Abdul Wali Khan in the town of Mardan were closed, he said.

In Islamabad around 20 people held a prayer vigil, while there were also two small protests, one of Pashtun students. Pashtuns form the dominant ethnic group in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

More than 200 sportsmen and women gathered along with officials from the Pakistan Sport Board (PSB) at a complex in the capital earlier Thursday to offer prayers for the victims.

The assault bore a chilling resemblance to the December 2014 Peshawar school assault in which more than 150 people were killed, mostly children.

The strike prompted the military to intensify an ongoing offensive against extremists in the tribal areas, and the government to launch a National Action Plan (NAP) cracking down on extremism.

Security improved in 2015 — but critics have repeatedly warned the government is not taking long-term steps to tackle the underlying scourge of extremism.



By AFP January 21, 2016 22:27

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