‘All the children were bleeding’

Written By komlim puldel on Selasa, 16 Desember 2014 | 20.01

Terrorists stormed an army school in Peshawar, Pakistan killing possibly over 80 children.

Unfolding ... A hospital security guard helps a student injured in the shootout at a school under attack by Taliban gunmen in Peshawar, Pakistan. Picture: AP/Mohammad Sajjad Source: AP

Taliban gunmen have killed 130 people, the majority children, after storming an army-run school in restive northwest Pakistan.

Witnesses described how a huge blast shook the Army Public School in the northwestern city of Peshawar and gunmen went from classroom to classroom, shooting children.

The militants had been ordered to shoot older students, a Taliban spokesman said, adding the attack was revenge for a major military offensive in the region.

ATTACK: Taliban bomb blast near US Embassy and Kabul Supreme Court

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Massacre ... Gunmen reportedly went from classroom to classroom shooting students. Picture: AP/Mohammad Sajjad Source: AP

Tragic ... The wounded start arriving at a hospital for treatment. Picture: AP/Mohammad Sajjad Source: AP

At least five insurgents wearing military uniforms entered the school a source said.

Senior provincial minister Inayatullah told AFP at least 104 bodies had been taken to two hospitals in Peshawar.

Distraught parents thronged the city's Lady Reading Hospital in the wake of the attack, weeping uncontrollably as children's bodies arrived, their school uniforms drenched in blood.

Irshadah Bibi, 40, whose 12-year-old son was among the dead, beat her face in grief, throwing herself against an ambulance.

Injured ... Pakistani volunteers help carry injured students into hospital. Picture: AP/Mohammad Sajjad Source: AP

"O God, why did you snatch away my son? What is the sin of my child and all these children?" she wept.

"My son was in uniform in the morning. He is in a casket now," wailed one parent, Tahir Ali, as he came to the hospital to collect the body of his 14-year-old son Abdullah. "My son was my dream. My dream has been killed."

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was retaliation for the army's continuing operation against militants in the North Waziristan tribal area close to Peshawar.

"We are doing this because we want them to feel the pain of how terrible it is when your loved ones are killed," said TTP spokesman Muhammad Khorasani.

Heartbreaking ... The bodies of those killed are already being retrived from hospitals. AP/Mohammad Sajjad Source: AP

"We are taking this step so that their families should mourn as ours are mourning."

Provincial information minister Mushtaq Ghani said many of the dead were killed in a suicide blast.

Around five and a half hours after the attack began, the army's chief spokesman General Asim Bajwa said the attackers had been cleared from all but one of the school's buildings.

Five militants had been killed, Bajwa said.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif described the attack as a "national tragedy unleashed by savages".

Hospitals fill with injured ... Those not killed recieve treatment for their wounds. Picture: AFP/ A Majeed Source: AFP

"These were my children. This is my loss. This is the nation's loss," he said. Provincial information minister Mushtaq Ghani told AFP the death toll had reached 130, with a similar number wounded. The toll was confirmed by another provincial minister.

Sharif vowed that the country would not be cowed by the violence and that the military would continue with an aggressive operation launched in June in the North Waziristan tribal area to rout militants.

"The fight will continue. No one should have any doubt about it," Sharif said.

Mudassar Abbas, a physics laboratory assistant at the school, said some students were celebrating at a party when the attack began.

"I saw six or seven people walking class-to-class and opening fire on children," he said.

Violence ... The students that survived were left bloody and injured. Picture: AP/Mohammad Sajjad Source: AP

Carnage ... Rescue workers transport students from ambulances into hospitals. Picture: AP/Mohammad Sajjad Source: AP

A student who survived the attack said soldiers came to rescue students during a lull in the firing.

"When we were coming out of the class we saw dead bodies of our friends lying in the corridors. They were bleeding. Some were shot three times, some four times," the student said.

"The men entered the rooms one by one and started indiscriminate firing at the staff and students."

The school on Peshawar's Warsak Road is part of the Army Public Schools and Colleges System, which runs 146 schools nationwide for the children of military personnel and civilians.

Bloodbath ... A wounded student said all the children had bullet wounds. Picture: AP/Mohammad Sajjad Source: AP

The schools educate the children of both officers and non-commissioned soldiers and army wives often teach in them.

The attack began in the morning, with the Taliban shooting at random, said police officer Javed Khan.

Army commandos quickly arrived at the scene and exchanged fire with the gunmen, he said.

Outside the school, shooting was initially heard along with one loud bang of unknown origin.

Pakistani television showed soldiers surrounding the area and pushing people back.

On the scene ... Pakistani army troops arrived quickly to conduct an operation at the school. Picture: AP/Mohammad Sajjad Source: AP

Later, one of the wounded students, Abdullah Jamal, said that he was with a group of 8th, 9th and 10th graders who were getting first-aid instructions and training with a team of Pakistani army medics when the violence began for real.

When the shooting started, Jamal, who was shot in the leg, said nobody knew what was going on in the first few seconds.

At the ready ... Pakistani soldiers take up position. Picture: AP/Mohammad Sajjad Source: AP

"Then I saw children falling down who were crying and screaming. I also fell down. I learned later that I have got a bullet," he said, speaking from his hospital bed.

"All the children had bullet wounds. All the children were bleeding," Jamal added.

"This attack is a response to Zarb-e-Azab and the killing of Taliban fighters and harassing their families." Zarb-e-Azb is the official name for the army's offensive against strongholds of the Taliban and other militants in North Waziristan.

The military has hailed the operation as a major success in disrupting the TTP's insurgency, which has killed thousands of Pakistanis since it erupted in 2007.

Safely out ... A plainclothes security officer escorts students rescued from a nearby school during the attack. Picture: AP/Mohammad Sajjad Source: AP

Devastating ... Families wait for news and their loved ones at the hospital. Picture: AP/Mohammad Sajjad Source: AP

More than 1,600 militants have been killed since the launch of Zarb-e-Azb in June, according to data compiled by AFP from regular military statements.

Talat Masood, a retired general and security analyst, said the attack was intended to weaken the military's resolve.

"It is both tactical and strategic. The militants know they won't be able to strike at the heart of the military, they don't have the capacity because the army are prepared," Masood told AFP.

"So they are going for soft targets. These attacks have a great psychological impact."

Rising ... The number of victims from the attack are continuing to rise. Picture: AP/Mohammad Sajjad Source: AP

The semi-autonomous tribal areas that border Afghanistan have for years been a hideout for Islamist militants of all stripes -- including Al-Qaeda and the homegrown TTP as well as foreign fighters such as Uzbeks and Uighurs.

Washington pressed Islamabad for years to wipe out the sanctuaries in North Waziristan, which militants have used to launch attacks on NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Peshawar has been the target of frequent militant attacks in the past but has seen a relative lull recently.

India has condemned the latest attack by Taliban militants.

Awful ... Pakistani parents react to the news of the attack. Picture: AFP/ A Majeed Source: AFP

Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the attack in the northwestern city of Peshawar exposed the "real face of terrorism".

"I strongly condemn the terrorist attack on a school at Peshawar," he tweeted. "This dastardly & inhuman attack exposes the real face of terrorism. My heart goes out to the families of those children who got killed by the terrorists in Peshawar."

India has repeatedly urged Pakistan to rein in militant groups operating on its soil.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence in 1947, and deadly attacks on Mumbai by Pakistan-based militants dealt a blow to tentative peace talks in 2008.

Catastrophic ... Parents rush to the hospital to find their children. Picture: AP/Mohammad Sajjad Source: AP

French President Francois Hollande also condemned what he described as a "vile" attack on the school.

"No words can express the ignominy of such an attack against children in their school," Hollande said in a statement.

Germany also spoke about the "cruel cowardice" of the Taliban attack.

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in a statement he condemned the "criminal attack in the strongest terms".

"The hostage-taking and murder of children exceeds in its cruel cowardice all that Pakistan, stricken by years of terror and violence, has known before.

"We mourn with the people of Pakistan the victims of this bloody terrorist attack. Our hearts go out to the families of the victims. For the many injured we wish speedy recoveries."

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