- Pakistani Taliban have killed at least 134 people, many of them children
- Police announced the operation at the school in Peshawar has ended with the death of a sixth militant
- Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif travelled to Peshawar. He called the massacre a “national tragedy” and declared three days of mourning
- Taliban said the attack was in revenge for a Pakistani military offensive in June in the North Waziristan
A national tragedy
More than 100 children are said to have been killed in an attack by the Taliban on a military-run high school at Peshawar in northwestern Pakistan.
Health Secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhaw province, Mustaq Jadoon said at least 134 people had died and 114 had been injured. A provincial official said the number is likely to rise.
Earlier sources said some students were still being held hostage by Taliban gunmen. Police announced that the operation is now over and all six Taliban militants had been killed.
#Psr Update:2 more children,2 teachers rescued.6th terrorist killed in last block.IEDs planted by terrorists hamper speed of clearance— AsimBajwaISPR (@AsimBajwaISPR) diciembre 16, 2014
The school, whose students are said to be between 10 and 20 years old, had been surrounded by security forces.
The army said special forces rescued two children and two staff members.
PTI (@RizwanKhanPTI) December 16, 2014
The authorities say three explosions were heard during the assault.
One student described how they lay on the floor in an exam hall amid prolonged gunfire.
The country’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has called the massacre a “national tragedy”.
Prime Minister leaves for Peshawar. All meetings in Islamabad cancelled for today. pic.twitter.com/fxZ93CTcra— Maryam Nawaz Sharif (@MaryamNSharif) December 16, 2014
Major hospitals in the area Lady Reading Hospital and Combined Military Hospital (CMH) appealed for blood donations, @wajahatullahkh7 tweeted this photo of people queueing up to donate blood.
Peshawar k awam ne sabit kar diya k hum darne wale nhi aur Hazroo log blood donate karne k liye hospital ponch rhe he pic.twitter.com/iqwxngadA8— Engr.Wajahat khan (@wajahatullahkh7) December 16, 2014
The Taliban said the attack was in revenge for a Pakistani military offensive in June in the North Waziristan region.
The organisation said six assailants wearing jackets lined with explosives had been sent to attack the school, adding that it had been targeted because the army targeted its families, and “we want them to feel our pain”.
Earlier, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban said what he called its suicide bombers had instructions only to target military personnel.
The city of Peshawar lies not far from the Afghan border. The Pakistani Taliban have been extremely active in the region as they fight to topple the government and set up a strict Islamic state.
World leaders have condemned the attack. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the attack “a senseless act of unspreakable brutality”. The British Prime Minister said the news was “deeply shocking” adding “It’s horrifying that children are being killed simply for going to school.”
It is a senseless act of unspeakable brutality that has claimed lives of the most innocent of human beings – young children in their school.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 16, 2014
The news from Pakistan is deeply shocking. It's horrifying that children are being killed simply for going to school.— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) December 16, 2014
The President of neighbouring Afghanistan also joined the condemnation.
Strongly condemn the insane/coward attack on a school in K.Pakhtunkhwa. I seek patience/strength from Allah(swt) to the families of victims.— Ashraf Ghani (@ashrafghani) December 16, 2014
US President Barack Obama pledged support for the Pakistan government’s efforts “to combat terrorism and extremism and to promote peace and stability in the region.”
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, herself a victim of Taliban violence said she was “heartbroken by the senseless and cold-blooded act of terror in Peshawar” adding, “I, along with millions of others around the world, mourn these children, my brothers and sisters – but we will never be defeated”.