Peshawar: In the latest assault to hit the militant-infested region, gunmen have attacked a university in northwestern Pakistan, killing at least two people and leaving three others injured, and are still on a rampage, security and school officials told AFP on Wednesday.
The Associated Press reported Pakistan police as saying that the gunmen killed a professor and a student in the attack.
Security forces have reached the Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the city of Peshawar, the military confirmed, as police said they had deployed armoured vehicles.
Television images showed female students clutching hands as they fled the university, with traffic blocked on the roads of Charsadda as security forces rushed towards the campus.
"There is firing inside the university at Charsadda," Saeed Wazir, a senior police official, told AFP.
The university has been cordoned off, said Nasir Durrani, Police Chief of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, of which Peshawar is the capital.
Fazal Raheem Marwat, the university vice chancellor, said at least three people had received unspecified injuries.
"There are male and female staff members and students on the campus," he said, adding he had been on his way to work when he was informed of the attack. There was no announced threat but we had already beefed up security at the university."
The gunmen had stormed the campus on its southern side, he said.
The army and police had moved into the university and a gunfight with the attackers was under way, Deputy Inspector General Saeed Wazir told Reuters. He said it was unclear how many gunmen were involved.
Television footage showed soldiers entering the campus as ambulances lined up outside the main gate and anxious parents consoled each other.
"We launched an operation inside the university and are trying to rescue the students and staff of the institution," Wazir said.
Police said the gunmen had used the cover of a thick fog on a wintry morning to storm the campus.
The Bacha Khan University teaches over 3,000 students and hosted an additional 600 visitors on Wednesday for a poetry recital, the vice chancellor said.
Shabir Khan, a lecturer in the English department, said he was about to leave the hostel for the department when firing began.
"Most of the students and staff were in classes when the firing began," Khan said. "I have no idea about what's going on but I heard one security official talking on the phone to someone and said many people had been killed and injured."
Nick Mohammed, security chief at the university, said the attackers had entered close to a campus guest house.
He confirmed that police and military had arrived with firing continuing on campus, and that at least three people have been hurt so far.
Peshawar was the location of Pakistan's deadliest ever extremist attack, when Taliban gunmen stormed an army-run school in December last year and killed more than 150 people, most of them children, in an hours-long siege.
The attack on the school prompted a crackdown on extremism in Pakistan, with the military increasing an offensive against militants in the tribal areas where they had previously operated with impunity.
On Tuesday, a suicide attack at a market on the city's outskirts killed 10 people as well as the bomber.
With inputs from agencies