The government of Pakistan has declared three days of mourning, beginning today, to remember that 148 people – mostly children – who were killed by Pakistani Taliban at a school yesterday.
Fox News is reporting on the sad aftermath of the tragedy which is being called the deadliest slaughter of innocents in the country’s history. The death toll rose overnight to 148 as several critically wounded school staff members succumbed to their injuries. In total, 132 students were killed and another 121 were wounded in the attack.
New details about the attack are coming to light on the day after the mass killing spree with officials saying seven Taliban gunmen were responsible for the carnage – six of whom lost their lives. With explosives strapped to their bodies, they scaled a back wall to get onto the grounds of the Army Public School and College in the city of Peshawar where about 500 children were in attendance.
Their initial entrance was into the main auditorium where a large number of students had gathered for an event. The militants climbed onto the stage and started firing into the crowd. As students panicked and ran for the doors, they were shot and killed.
Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa told reporters that 100 bodies were recovered from the auditorium alone.
“This is not a human act,” he added. “This is a national tragedy.”
Officials also discovered the body of the school principal, Tahira Qazi, who had been inside her office when the militants entered the auditorium. She ran and locked herself into the bathroom but was discovered by the attackers who threw a grenade through a vent in order to kill her.
Families throughout the region have begun the heartbreaking task of burying their dead, with most of the victims expected to be buried by the end of the day.
“They finished in minutes what I had lived my whole life for – my son,” said Akhtar Hussain, tears streaming down his face as he buried his 14-year-old, Fahad.
A laborer, he said he had worked for years in Dubai in order to provide a good life for his children.
“That innocent one is now gone in the grave, and I can’t wait to join him, I can’t live anymore,” he cried.
Meanwhile, the Pakistani Taliban remains unrepentant, claiming the attack was justified because the Pakistani army has allegedly been killing the innocent children and families of their fighters during a military offensive against Taliban safe havens in the northwest corner of the country.
However, Taliban militants in neighboring Afghanistan condemned the slaughter, calling it “un-Islamic.”
If anything, the deaths of so many innocents has strengthened the resolve of government leaders who have vowed to step up their campaign against the Taliban.
“We must not forget these scenes,” said Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. “The way they left bullet holes in the bodies of innocent kids, the way they tore apart their faces with bullets.”
He has already lifted the ban against imposing the death penalty for terrorist crimes, a ban he imposed last year when his government launched peace talks with the Taliban.
Sharif said that he has also spoken to President Ashraf Ghani in neighboring Afghanistan to discuss ways both countries could work together to fight terrorism.
According to Fox, the two agreed to launch fresh operations on their respective sides of the border and pledged to “clean this region from terrorism.”
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