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PESHAWAR: Five students were injured slightly when an explosive device went off at University of Peshawar (UoP) here on Wednesday, sources said.

The blast created panic at UoP as students staged a protest demonstration after the incident, alleging that the campus had become unsafe. The protesting students also demanded suspension of officials at Campus police station for their failure to protect students.

About one kilogram of explosives were used in the blast occurred in the conference hall of Institute of Islamic and Arabic Studies, UoP, Campus police station SHO Saidullah Afirdi told Dawn.

However, UoP spokesperson claimed that nobody was injured in the blast as the conference hall was empty at the time of explosion. He said that the blast caused damage to the furniture, doors and windows of the hall and a nearby computer laboratory.

An official of bomb disposal squad said that the explosives were packed in a plastic container. “We found ball bearings from the blast site that created a crater and also caused a three feet wide hole in a corner of the wall of the main hall,” he said, adding it was a time device, which went off after midday.

The UoP spokesperson said that the conference hall was used for faculty meetings and defence of theses by PhD scholars and researchers. He said that situation was under control and routine academic activities would continue as per schedule on the campus.

A teacher said that about five boys and girl students were injured slightly in the blast. They were hit by broken glasses of the windowpanes but they seemed traumatised after the incident, he added.

Sources said that the injured students were taken to Khyber Teaching Hospital for treatment. They were identified as Naheed Afridi, Mehnaz, Nasira, Sundas and Mohammad Tayyeb. However, they were discharged after giving first aid at the hospital, sources said.

It was second incident of bomb blast on the UoP campus as the first explosion had taken place in a laboratory of geology department on Dec 27 wherein two professors and a girl student had sustained injuries.

A reliable source said that the UoP campus had become an accessible place for suspected militants as they collected donations in the university mosques, spoke to people and also displayed banners and posters with no check from the authorities concerned.

Besides, he said, there was no check on the stay of outsiders in the university hostels. The administration was avoiding taking action against them, he added.

“We have time and again suggested that all the outsiders should be expelled from the campus but to no avail,” a police official said. He added that police had no authority to expel anyone without permission of the relevant officials of the university.

The UoP spokesperson, however, rejected presence of outsiders in the hostels and said that no outsider was living permanently there.

Prof Shfiqur Rehmn, a senior university teacher, told Dawn that it was the second incident of its kind within a week. The teachers were concerned over the prevailing situation, he added.

“The teachers feel that the message is clear that such places are also not safe any longer,” he said. The UoP administration tried to downplay the blasts occurred in a laboratory of geology department and the recent incident of the same nature, the teacher said. The reasons could be only that the administration did not want to create panic among the students, he added.

After the blast, students affiliated with various organisations staged a protest against the incident. They chanted slogans against the university administration and officials of Campus police station for their failure to provide security to the students.