The Taliban has attacked a Pakistani school attended mostly by government soldiers’ children because many of the students expressed interest in becoming anti-Taliban military themselves.
Terrorists attacked on Tuesday, entering the school with explosives strapped to their bodies. They killed 148 people, 132 of whom were children.
After the attack, the terror group released an email saying they had attacked the school in an attempt to avenge the deaths of children killed by soldiers in tribal areas. The group went on to warn Muslims to stay away from places associated with the military.
The email continued, accusing the students of “following the path of their fathers and brothers to take part in the fight against the tribesmen” across the country.
The Army Public School and Degree College has about 1,100 students staff, the majority of which are the children of army personnel from in and around Peshawar. While the school does admit children whose parents are employed by the military, its classes are not only meant for future soldiers.
One day after the attacks, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz lifted the death penalty moratorium currently in place for terror cases.
“We tried dialogue with these militants, we reopened the door to talks,” Sharif said. “It was unsuccessful … there was no other option than to engage in an operation against these people.”
Student Ahmed Faraz, 14, was in the auditorium when the attackers came in. He said about five people threw open the doors and opened fire, shouting “God is great!” as they moved down the hallways, seeking out terrified children.
” ‘A lot of the children are under the benches,’ ” a Pakistan Taliban member said, according to Ahmed. ” ‘Kill them.’ “
Ahmed was shot in his left shoulder and lay quietly under a bench.
Eventually, Pakistani troops were able to make their way through the building, trapping the attackers in four buildings. On their way they found children drenched in blood with bodies on top of bodies.
“Even the children are dying on the frontline in the war against terror,” said Khawaja Asif, the defense minister. “The smaller the coffin, the heavier it is to carry.”
By the end, all seven attackers had been killed, although it is unclear if they were shot by soldiers or if they had detonated the explosives they carried with them. They were not included in the casualty toll.
According to Pakistani officials, the terrorists came in with the goal to kill, not to take captives, arriving at the school with enough ammunition and supplies to last for days.
This is not the first time the Taliban has gone after schoolchildren. Their most widely-recognized victim, Malala Yousafzai, was singled out for her education advocacy and shot in 2012 while in a van going to school with other girls. She survived and has gone on to become the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize last week for her work promoting education and girls’ rights.