Nine students were killed and 37 were injured after at least three militants wearing burqas and armed with guns entered Peshawar’s Agricultural Training Institute early on Friday, Dawn reported. The number of casualties is expected to rise as a clearance operation is under way.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. Group spokesperson Mohammad Khorasani said they had targeted a safe house of the military’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, Reuters reported.

The Hayatabad Medical Complex Director Shahzad Akbar confirmed that the hospital received six bodies and was treating 18 injured people. At the Khyber Teaching Hospital, sources said they had received three bodies and were treating 17 injured.

The Inter-Services Public Relations confirmed that three militants were killed in an operation conducted by security forces while the police officials at the site told Dawn that four terrorists were killed after a “successful clearance operation”. The security forces recovered suicide jackets, three grenades, two bombs and a pistol from inside the building.

The attack began around 8.15 am, The Express Tribune reported. The attackers, wearing buras, arrived in a rickshaw and shot the guard at the gate before going towards the hostel building where they began the firing, Peshawar police chief Tahir Khan said. Three loud explosions were heard and firing broke out, the Dawn report said.

The institute houses a hostel for students of the Peshawar University, but most of them were away as the institute was closed for Eid Miladun Nabi, GeoNews reported.

“Saddened by condemnable terrorist attack in Peshawar this morning,” Imran Khan, chairperson of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf said on Twitter. “My prayers to the victims and their families.”

Attacks on students

In December 2014, Pakistani Taliban gunmen killed 134 children at Peshawar’s Army Public School, one of the single deadliest attacks in the country’s history. On January 20, 2016, 21 students and staff members of the Bacha Khan University were killed in a similar attack.