The military has announced the arrest of five men accused of facilitating Wednesday’s deadly attack on a university in Charsadda district that killed 21 people and injured dozens more.
A faction of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the assault on Bacha Khan University that was a chilling reminiscent of the 2014 bloody rampage by Taliban at the Army Public School in Peshawar that had left 142 pupils and staff dead.
“Five facilitators have been arrested and another one, who I will call terrorist-A is still at large,” chief military spokesman Lt Gen Asim Bajwa told a televised news conference in Peshawar on Saturday. He identified them as Noorullah, Adil, Riaz, his son Ibrahim, and Ziaullah.
Providing intricate details of the planning of the attack, he said the four terrorists were trained in Afghanistan and they sneaked into Pakistan from the Torkham border crossing in Khyber Agency.
Lt Gen Bajwa, the director general of the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), said the attack was controlled from Afghanistan. TTP commanders Omar Mansoor and his deputy Zakir, who are both hiding in Afghanistan, were the masterminds of the attack. Omar had also masterminded the APS massacre.
The TTP commanders sent the four attackers, one of whom has been identified as Amir Rehman of Waziristian, via Torkham. There ‘terrorist-A’ received and shifted them to Mardan on public transport.
Adil and Riaz received the militants and gave them a house on Mardan-Charsadda Road for their stay. A rickshaw was purchased by Noorullah, who dropped the four attackers near the Bacha Khan University on the day of the attack. Omar’s deputy Zakir had helped in buying the rickshaw.
Adil was said to be a mason, who had worked inside the university some time ago. He made detailed maps of the varsity which were then shared with the people who planned the attack, Lt Gen Bajwa said. Adil was the one who took the four attackers with him on reconnaissance of the area around the university.
The AK-47 assault rifles and ammunition used in the assault was bought from Darra Adam Khel, a semi-tribal area on the edge of Peshawar, by Adil and Riaz along with their unnamed accomplice, whose wife and niece helped transport these weapons to Mardan. “Women wearing traditional veils do not usually undergo a routine body search at the checkpoints,” he added.
The military spokesman said the attackers were in constant touch with their handlers in Afghanistan. TTP’s Omar made 10 calls from his Afghan mobile number to terrorists and reporters as well to claim responsibility for the attack. “We know the location of [these] terrorists in Afghanistan and this has also been shared with the Afghan government,” Lt Gen Bajwa said.
He reiterated the army’s resolve to eliminate terrorism while also requesting Pakistani citizens to be aware of their surroundings. “All institutions must play their part. All societies must play their part [to thwart terrorism],” he said. “No terrorist attack can take place without the help of facilitators and these facilitators need to be identified.” About the ongoing Operation Zarb-e-Azb, the army spokesman said there has been a marked decrease in violence since June 2014, when the operation was launched. “We need not be disappointed by terrorist attacks. We will not allow terrorists to succeed in their nefarious designs,” he vowed.
Army chief chairs meeting
Earlier, army chief Gen Raheel Sharif chaired a special security review meeting at the Peshawar Corps Headquarters, where the directors-general Military Operations and Inter-Services Intelligence discussed the Charsadda attack progress report along with other important matters.
According to the ISPR, the meeting also reviewed Pak-Afghan border issues and matters related to operations being carried out in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 24th, 2016.