Itongadol.- At least 130 people, most of them children, were killed on Tuesday after Taliban gunmen broke into a school in the Pakistani city of Peshawar and opened fire, witnesses said, in the bloodiest massacre the country has seen for years.
Taliban assault on Pakistani school ends, 130 dead, mostly children
More than eight hours after militants entered the school compound, the military declared the operation to flush them out over, and said that all nine insurgents had been killed.
The attack at a military-run high school attended by at least 500 students, many of them children of army personnel, struck at the heart of Pakistan\’s military establishment, an assault certain to enrage the country\’s powerful army.
The Taliban, waging war against Pakistan in order to topple the government and set up an Islamic state, immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
"We selected the army\’s school for the attack because the government is targeting our families and females," said Taliban spokesman Muhammad Umar Khorasani. "We want them to feel the pain."
As night fell on Peshawar, a teeming, volatile city near the Afghan border, security forces finally wrapped up an operation that lasted more than eight hours and involved sometimes intense gun battles.
The Taliban said the gunmen had been equipped with suicide vests. Three explosions were heard inside the high school at the height of the massacre, raising fears of more casualties.
Outside, as helicopters rumbled overhead, police struggled to hold back distraught parents who were trying to break past a security cordon and get into the school.
Officials said 122 people were wounded. A local hospital said the dead and injured were aged from 10 to 20 years old.
According to early witness accounts, a group of militants burst into the school as students attended classes and lectures, shooting indiscriminately at both pupils and teachers.
The gunmen, who several students said communicated with each other in a foreign language, managed to slip past the school\’s tight security because they were wearing Pakistani military uniforms, local media reported.
Pakistanis, used to almost daily militant attacks, were shocked by the scale of the massacre and the loss of so many young lives.
It recalled the 2004 siege of a school in Russia\’s Beslan by Chechen militants which ended in the death of more than 330 people, half of them children.