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Taliban Attack On Pakistani Military High school leaves 126 dead

DECEMBER 16, 2014
Taliban Attack On Pakistani Military High school leaves 126 dead

A Taliban attack on a Pakistani military-run high school on Tuesday reportedly left at least 126 people dead and a further 122 injured, a provincial official said.

“It may rise,” said Bahramand Khan, director of information for the Chief Minister's Secretariat.

He said more than 100 of the dead were school children. A local hospital said the dead and wounded it had seen were aged between 10 and 20 years old.

Revenge attack

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack citing revenge as the motive.

“We selected the army's school for the attack because the government is targeting our families and females,” said Taliban spokesman Muhammad Umar Khorasani.

“We want them to feel the pain.”

Pakistani military officials at the scene said at least six armed men had entered the military-run Army Public School. About 500 students and teachers were believed to be inside.

“We were standing outside the school and firing suddenly started and there was chaos everywhere and the screams of children and teachers,” said Jamshed Khan, a school bus driver.

It was not clear whether some or all of the children were killed by gunmen, suicide bombs or in the ensuing battle with Pakistani security forces trying to gain control of the building.

World’s youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner heartbroken

Following the attack, the world's youngest Nobel peace prize winner and Pakistani education activist, Malala Yousafzai – who was also previously targeted by the Taliban, said she is heartbroken by what she described as a "senseless and cold-blooded act of terror".

“I’m heartbroken of this senseless and cold blooded act of terror. Innocent children have no place in horror places like these, I condemn the cowardly acts and stand united with the government and armed forces of Pakistan.”  

Hostages still held by Taliban attackers

An unspecified number of children are still being held hostage in the military-run school, a provincial official said, speaking some three hours after the siege began.

Situation fluid

With the rescue operation under way, the situation remained fluid, with contradictory reports about what was happening inside the school and witness accounts difficult to come by.

“An army doctor was visiting us teaching us about first aid when attackers came from behind our school and started firing,” one student told Pakistan's Dunya Television.

“Our teachers locked the door and we ducked on the floor, but they (militants) broke down the door. Initially they fired in the air and later started killing the students, but left the hall suddenly.

“The attackers had long beards, wore shalwar kameez (traditional baggy clothes) and spoke Arabic.”

Five Taliban militants killed

The Pakistani army said five Taliban militants had been killed and that they were searching for any remaining gunmen. The Taliban had earlier said they had sent six insurgents with suicide vests to attack the school.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attack and said he was on his way to Peshawar.

“I can't stay back in Islamabad. This is a national tragedy unleashed by savages. These were my kids,” he said in a statement.

“This is my loss. This is the nation's loss. I am leaving for Peshawar now and I will supervise this operation myself.”