In an act of terror reminiscent of the 2004 Beslan massacre and the handiwork of Nigeria’s Boko Haram, Taliban fighters attacked a school in Peshawar, Pakistan today, killing at least 132 pupils and nine teachers, including a female instructor who was alive when the attackers doused her in gasoline and set her alight in front of her class.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (Pakistani Taliban) has claimed responsibility for the attack and said it was in revenge for an anti-terrorist military offensive. Spokesman Muhammad Khorasani said it was “just the trailer” to further attacks.
According to the New York Times,
The militants’ assault started at about 10 a.m., when nine gunmen disguised as paramilitary soldiers climbed the rear wall of the Army Public School and Degree College, a school of about 2,500 pupils, including boys and girls, a senior security official said. …
As Pakistani security forces responded, some of the attackers blew themselves up while others were killed by members of the army’s Special Service Group commando unit.
Desperate parents, meanwhile, rushed to local hospitals or gathered outside the school gates seeking news of their children. One of them, Muhammad Arshad, described his relief after his son Ehsan was rescued army commandos. “I am thankful to God for giving him a second life,” he said.
But at the Combined Military Hospital, the bodies of schoolchildren were lined up on the floor, most of them with single gunshot wounds to the head.
“They burned a teacher in front of the students in a classroom,” [an] unnamed military source told the US TV network. “They literally set the teacher on fire with gasoline and made the kids watch.”
According to a tweet by Omar R. Quraishi, an editor at The Express Tribune who has over 154,000 Twitter followers, “Some of the bodies brought to hospital during the Peshawar school attack have been headless: source.”
One expert on Islamist terror, Ahmed Rashid, said that
… the insurgents had various reasons to attack the school, one of which was to send a message to the supporters of Malala [Yousafzai], who advocates education for women and children. … Rashid also believes the Taliban targeted the school to demoralize the military.
The school, though founded to educate the children of army officers, has many pupils who come from civilian backgrounds.
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