141 dead, 245 injured in horrific Taliban school attack

by Staff, |
A soldier escorts schoolchildren after they were rescued from the Army Public School that is under attack by Taliban gunmen in Peshawar, December 16, 2014. | REUTERS/Khuram Parvez

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Christian Examiner) — A Pakistan school attack by the Taliban left 141 people dead and another 245 injured, according to reports. One hundred thirty two were children and teenagers between the ages of 10 and 16, while 9 were school staff. Seven attackers carried out the horrific siege on the Army Public School and Degree College in Peshawar.

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), or the Pakistan Taliban, took credit for the violence through their spokesman Mohammed Khurrassani. All the murderers wore suicide bomb vests. Six were killed by Pakistani commandos and another detonated his explosives, Agence France-Presse reported.

This was a "national tragedy unleashed by savages," said Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a statement. "These were my children. This is my loss. This is the nation's loss."

The Pakistan Taliban's assault on the school began at about 10:30 a.m. GMT. Injured victims taken to Lady Reading Hospital said that the gunmen scaled the walls of the school and entered buildings, shooting students at random. The terrorists also planted explosives.

"I saw children falling down who were crying and screaming. I also fell down. I learned later that I have got a bullet," eighth grader Abdullah Jamal told reporters from his hospital bed.

Pakistani commandos arrived quickly on the scene and began firing at the terrorists and disabling the explosives they planted. Some of the 700 students and staff in the school managed to evacuate the area when the attack began. The gunmen were confined to just four buildings on the campus by about 4 p.m. local time, CNN reported.

Not long after, Peshawar police chief Mohammad Aijaz Khan said that all the attackers were dead.

The Taliban Pakistan said in the phone call to media that the attack was retaliation for the hundreds of tribesmen killed by army operations in South Waziristan, North Waziristan and the Khyber Agency.

"We are facing such heavy nights in routine," said the TTP spokesman. "Today, you must face the heavy night."

"I am heartbroken by this senseless and cold-blooded act of terror in Peshawar that is unfolding before us," Malala Yousafzai, the 17-year-old Pakistani Nobel Peace Laureate and survivor, said in a statement. "I, along with millions of others around the world, mourn these children, my brothers and sisters, but we will never be defeated."

Prime Minister Sharif called for Pakistan to "rise against the terrorists," saying "we will avenge every single drop of our children's blood."

The school attack Tuesday was the worst in the country since 2008, when a suicide bomber killed 150 people in Karachi.