ISLAMABAD, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- At least 19 students were killed at a university in northwest Pakistan that came under attack Wednesday by armed militants, officials said.
The three-hour attack at Bacha Khan University began about 9:30 a.m. when militants climbed over the back wall of a university guest house. Explosions and gunfire grew intense as security guards fought the militants. The Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility.
Among those killed in the attack were two female students, a senior faculty member and four guards, said Fakhr-i-Alam, a senior government official. The exact number of students killed has yet to be confirmed. All four attackers were killed, authorities said.
The campus was evacuated, but some students and staff remained trapped or in hiding.
"I personally heard two explosions near hostel number one," an unidentified witness told Pakistan's Geo TV. "We don't know if they were suicide bombers or grenades. I personally saw two explosions and smoke was rising."
An assistant professor at the university believed a poetry gathering honoring the man the school was named after might have been the target of the attack. Bacha Khan was a famous Pashtun nationalist who died in 1988.