It is believed more than 20 people have been killed and more than 50 injured as gunmen attacked a university in northwest Pakistan.
The attack happened wednesday morning at Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, just over a hundred kilometeres from the capital Islamabad.
Reports indicate that the death toll is likely to rise as the military operation is still ongoing.
Police officials have confirmed that six gunmen have been killed.
The university has over 3,000 enrolled students and was hosting an additional 600 visitors on Wednesday for a poetry recital on the death anniversary of the Pashtun activist, Abdul Ghaffar ‘Bacha’ Khan, the university’s chancellor told Al Jazeera news.
Pakistan’s prime minister, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, said he was “deeply grieved” over the attack, and vowed to fight to the end and destroy “the menace of terrorism”.
Qari Asim, Imam at Makkah Masjid in Leeds has also spoken out against the attack. He told Asian Sunday:
“The Terrorist Attack at Bacha Khan University in Pakistan is absolutely shocking, disgraceful and defies belief. The horrific actions of these terrorists are neither Islamic not legitimate, in any way shape or form.
Targeting innocent civilians in educational institutions is satanic, and NOT Islamic.
“Prayers and thoughts for 3000 students that were trapped and their families, in particular those whose lives have been lost. They are the martyrs who will be in Paradise and NOT the suicide bombers and killers, who wrongly believe to be killing people in the name of Islam.
“The Terrorists are NOT following any version of Islam, as some people claim. They are simply Khawarij (ex-communicated); they are killers of innocent lives, who claim to be part of the Muslim community but the Prophet (peace be upon him) has said that they will not be following Islam and will not be in Paradise because of their ill-actions.
“This tragic incident once again shows that Muslims have suffered considerably as a result of the rise of extremism, particularly in terms of the number of lives lost around the world but also through the rise in anti-Muslim hatred. The foul and divisive views of extremists will only be defeated through us working together, with mutual co-operation between all communities and international government agencies.
In Pakistan, there is a need for a wise political and religious leadership to emerge for the sake of new generation and root out extremism.”