Suicide Attackers Kill 2 At Pakistani University

An Islamic university in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad has been hit by suicide bombers, leaving two people dead. The two suicide attackers set off near-simultaneous blasts at a women's cafeteria and a faculty building. The president of the university suspects militants were responsible.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And in Afghanistan's neighbor, Pakistan, suicide attackers struck at the heart of Islamabad today. They bombed an Islamic university. NPR's Julie McCarthy was there, and joins us now from the capital. And Julie, you were at the site of the bombings today. What did you see?

JULIE MCCARTHY: Well, as you said, it was at the Islamic University, and there were two explosions there. One took place at the cafe where female students attend, and it was swarming with students who had poured out. Many had been injured. Those who had come to the scene were telling me that it was their favorite place, that they spent a lot time there, or that they had just left moments beforehand. The Islamic University is the nation's university that draws students from all over the country. It's not, like, the elite schools of the Pakistan, many of which were closed temporarily because of the security situation.

So this scene left students just shattered. There were girls' shoes in front of this cafe, purses. I saw at the entrance the walls spattered with blood. On the other side of the campus, a second explosion took place at the faculty of the sharia law. A suicide bomber there blew himself up in front of, we're told, the office of the head of the department. So extremists bombing Islamic universities, especially striking sharia law complexes, left a lot of students just wondering what fundamentalists they're dealing with. Who could be striking at the center of Islamic learning? And a lot of that disbelief turned to anger when even the government officials showed up and they started screaming shame, shame at them. So a bit of a reminder here, the fragility of the situation.

MONTAGNE: And while this may be a bit unusual, being at a university, it was just, sadly, the latest in a series of terrorist attacks in Pakistani cities.

MCCARTHY: That's right. In fact, this was - this is the first major attack that the country has experienced since the army entered Waziristan, which is an offensive they've launched along the Afghan border, a place that the United States officials have called one of the most dangerous in world, if not the most dangerous. But before that, you're right. Pakistan has been enduring a succession of terror attacks that started two weeks ago in Islamabad, when a suicide bomber bombed a United Nations complex. There was also a stunning attack at the army headquarters. Today's attack comes on the heel of the Waziristan offensive. You have the army chief warning that as the troops moved in to shut down the Taliban in Waziristan, that the country would experience more attacks. But I think what we've seen here, Renee, is a willingness on the part of what they believe were terrorists today, a willingness to attack at will, and also proving that they can strike.

MONTAGNE: Julie, thank you very much.

MCCARTHY: Thank you.

MONTAGNE: NPR's Julie McCarthy, speaking to us from Islamabad.

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