SHABQADAR / PESHAWAR: The Bacha Khan University, attacked by the Taliban last week, has demanded the government arm its staff besides announcing the closure of campus for indefinite period as it seeks to boost security after the deadly assault in which 21 people were killed, officials said on Monday.
“We have demanded weapons from the government and weapons licenses for all teachers and management officials,” Bacha Khan university registrar Hamidullah Khan told AFP.
Authorities at the university in Charsadda in the northwest have also called for police checkpoints both inside and outside the campus and watch towers to protect students, he said.
Wednesday’s attack in Charsadda saw heavily-armed militants storm the campus, gunning down students and teachers in a bloody rampage before they were killed by the military.
“We have closed it for an indefinite time because the attack has had traumatic effect on the students,” a university spokesperson confirmed on Monday.
He said the students required some time off due to the traumatic effects of the incident, adding parents were also not ready to send their students to the varsity. “There has also been damage to the building, which needs repair,” added the spokesperson.
Teachers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province were given permission to carry firearms after the Pakistani Taliban massacred more than 150 people, the majority of them children, at a school in the provincial capital Peshawar in 2014.
The Bacha Khan attack, which bore chilling similarities to the murderous rampage at the Army Public School in Peshawar, has spurred the debate on arming teachers once more.
University registrar Khan said the campus had been reopened Monday but only to administrative staff, with classes suspended indefinitely as authorities seek to improve security. “Students wanted to resume the classes,” he said. “We appreciate their courage, but we now cannot take any risk on security.”
Students and teachers were being screened by police and security guards at the entrance to the campus on Monday, an AFP journalist said. “They (militants) cannot stop us, we will try to face them and continue our studies,” a student who gave his name as Abdullah told AFP.
University employee Jehangir Khan echoed the call for the government to provide tighter security, noting the university was surrounded by open fields. “Students are afraid,” he said.
A memorial service was held at the university earlier on Monday to “pay tribute to the martyrs”, vice chancellor Fazal Rahim told AFP, while Khan said the victims’ belongings were later handed over to their families.
On Friday, the Taliban faction behind both the APS massacre and the BKU attack posted a video message vowing to target schools throughout the country, calling them “nurseries” for people who challenge Allah’s law.
Earlier, Reuters reported at least 200 students at the varsity protested over a lack of security after the authorities reopened the campus.