PESHAWAR – Over 140, including children more than 130, were killed when terrorists dressed in military uniform, took hundreds of students and teachers hostage on Tuesday in the Army Public School in the city of Peshawar. The attack was claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
“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.”
The area around the school has been cordoned off. A crossfire between the security personnel and attackers in underway. One soldier has been martyred in the battle, confirmed KP minister Shehram Targai.
According to Inter-Service Public Relations (ISPR), rescue operation is underway and an exchange of fire continues. Bulk of students and staff evacuated while some children and teachers have been killed by terrorists, it adds.
Outside, as helicopters rumbled overhead, police struggled to hold back distraught parents who were trying to break past a security cordon and get into the school.
KP government has announced three-day mourning in the province. – Negotiations between PTI and Federal Government as well as the party’s planned country-wide lock-down strike on 18th December, have been postponed.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has announced a three-day mourning period across the country to commemorate victims of the attack.
About 500 students and teachers were believed to be inside. Army personnel rushed to the site and evacuated the school but many remain trapped in the building, reports add.
A Pakistani military source told US TV network NBC that at least 10 attackers wearing police uniforms and suicide vests stormed the army-run school this morning. – The gunmen were reported to have fired at random inside the school before the building was surrounded by Pakistani troops, who exchanged fire with the militants.
The source said: “They burnt a teacher in front of the students in a classroom. – “They literally set the teacher on fire with gasoline and made the kids watch.”
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Muttahida Qaumi Movement Chief Altaf Hussain, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chief Imran Khan, Pakistan Awami Tehreek leader Tahirul Qadri have condemned the attack.
Education campaigner and Nobel peace prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban in 2012, has condemned the “atrocious and cowardly” attack on a school in Pakistan.
In a statement, the 17-year-old said: “I am heartbroken by this senseless and cold-blooded act of terror in Peshawar that is unfolding before us. – Innocent children in their school have no place in horror such as this.
“I, along with millions of others around the world, mourn these children, my brothers and sisters – but we will never be defeated,” she added.
“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.
A teacher said that the attackers targeted the school while exams were taking place.
“After half an hour of the attack, the army came and sealed the school,” a teacher told a private television channel outside the besieged school.
According to student eye witnesses, teachers directed the student to duck and drop on the floor.
“We were in the examination hall when the attack took place,” he said. “Now the army men are clearing the classes one by one.”
TTP CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY:
Tehreek-e-Taliban spokesman Muhammad Umar Khorasani told a foreign news agency his group was responsible for the attack.
“Our suicide bombers have entered the school, they have instructions not to harm the children, but to target the army personnel,” he said.
“We targeted the school because the army targets our families. We want them to feel our pain,” he was quoted saying by a foreign news agency.
“It’s a revenge attack for the army offensive in North Waziristan,” he said, referring to an anti-Taliban military offensive that began in June.