A Pakistani university has resumed classes amid heightened security nearly a month after Taliban fighters stormed the campus, killing 21 students and teachers.

The Bacha Khan University, in the town of Charsadda in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, re-opened on Monday, guarded by hundreds of police, highlighting an atmosphere of fear after the Taliban vowed to continue to strike schools throughout the country. 

The university's vice chancellor Fazal-ur-Rahim Marwat welcomed the students back, assuring them that all possible security measures had been taken.

"I am happy to announce that the university has been reopened today but amid very strict security," vice chancellor Marwat told AFP news agency, saying the objective was "to defeat the mindset of militants".


READ MORE: Pakistan attack - 'My son died protecting his guests'


The university also decided that teachers could continue to carry their own licensed weapons as long as they do not display them in classrooms, Marwat said.

"I carried my licensed gun today to the university, as we are still not sure about the security measures taken after the attack," Murad Ali, an office assistant at the university, told Al Jazeera. 

"We are responsible for saving our own lives and cannot rely on anyone else. This attack has left us scared and fearful for our lives."

The attack, which occurred on January 20, shattered a growing sense of security in the troubled region, a year after the Peshawar school massacre in which more than 150 people - mainly children - were killed.

"These people [Taliban] are against the idea of education. They want to attack us so we can stop educating the youth of this country, but no matter what happens, we won't stop," Fahim Jan, a statistics professor at the university, told Al Jazeera.

"By targeting educational institutes they want us to live in fear, so we can refrain from attending schools and colleges. Their motive was the same when attacking the Army Public school in 2014. But you see, these attacks are not affecting us. We are still here."

Security measures

Police and commandos were seen taking up positions on rooftops of the university, while students passed through body scanners and were frisked before entering.

Marwat said the university had also set up special camps for the psychological treatment of traumatised students.


READ MORE: Bereaved families decry Pakistan campus security


"We have come to the university today with a firm commitment to uphold sacrifices of our fellow students," said Rehmat Ullah, 20, a student of in the biotechnology department.

The university attack was claimed by a faction of the Taliban. Its commander Khalifa Umar Mansoor called schools "nurseries" for people who "challenge Allah's law".

He said in a video last month that instead of targeting professional soldiers, "we will target the nurseries that produce these people".

The university is named after the liberal, secular political figure, Abdul Ghaffar "Bacha" Khan, who was hailed as a spiritual leader by an anti-Taliban political party. 

Pakistan has been fighting homegrown rebel fighters since 2004, when the Taliban, displaced by the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, began a campaign in border tribal areas.

Three years later the umbrella Pakistani Taliban group was formed. Overall levels of violence have fallen since a concerted military push against the Taliban's bases began in 2014, and last year saw the fewest casualties among civilians and security forces since 2007.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies