ISLAMABAD,At least 141 people including 132 children were killed and 133 others injured on Tuesday in a terrorist attack at the army-run public school at the Pakistan’s northwestern provincial capital of Peshawar, said a spokesman of the Pakistani army.
Director General of the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), army’s mouth piece, General Asim Saleem Bajwa told a press conference in Peshawar on Tuesday night that the security personnel had completed the operation against the militants that killed 141 people, including 132 children and nine school staff members.
DG ISPR Bajwa said that 133 people were also injured in the attack and they include 121 students, three staff members and nine army personnel including two officers.
He said the operation against the militants had completed after nearly 10 hours of exchange of fire and all the seven militants involved in the attack were killed.
The deadly attack took place at about 10:30 a.m. (local time) on Tuesday morning when the heavily armed militants dressed in army uniforms stormed the school located on Warsak Road in downtown Peshawar, capital city of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.
The school, which is run by the army, mainly provides education for children aged from 9 to 17 from the army families.
The attackers reached near the school in a Suzuki pickup and entered the school after burning their vehicle, said eyewitnesses.
An injured student said the militants attacked the main auditorium of the school where a ceremony was being held for the students of grade nine and 10.
Firing was heard shortly after they entered the school. The militants rushed into the hall and opened fire and hurled hand grenades at the students and staff members. Later the attackers held many of students in custody inside the auditorium during the exchange of fire with the security forces, said survivors.
There were about 1,100 students inside the school when it came under attack, said the army spokesman Bajwa.
The quick response force of the Pakistan army arrived at the attack site 10-15 minutes after the attack was reported, said Bajwa.
Large contingent of forces were called in to fight against the militants. Tanks, armoured personnel carrier vehicles and helicopters were also employed in the rescue operation.
Fierce firing and blasts were heard during the operation.
All the seven attackers were wearing suicide jackets. At least one attacker reportedly blew himself up after being cornered while six others were shot dead by the army commandoes.
The militants also planted landmines inside the school, making more difficult for the rescue operation, said the army spokesman, adding that 960 students were rescued during the operation.
All the attack victims were shifted to a civilian hospital and a military hospital in Peshawar. Emergency was delacred in the city and its hospitals. Due to the large number of injured people, the hospitals had to urge the public to donate blood.
The Pakistan Taliban have claimed responsibility for the bloody attack.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif flew to Peshawar to direct the operation and Army Chief General Raheel Sharif cut short a visit to the country’s southwest province of Balochistan to watch over the operation.
Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain issued a statement strongly condemning the attack and said that such cowardly attacks cannot deter the resolve and morale of the Pakistani nation to fight against terrorism.
The Pakistani government has announced a three-day national mourning for the attack victims.
The massive killing of innocent children and civilians has also drawn strong condemnations from all walks of life and from the international community. Leaders from the United Nations, the European Union, the United States, France, Britain, India, Turkey and the Philippines have all strongly condemned the attack and expressed sympathy with the attack victims.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman on Tuesday night also issued a statement condemning the attack.
This is the worst terrorist attack since the launch of military operation against the militants in the country’s northwestern tribal region of North Waziristan on June 15 this year.
According to the reports, more than 1,200 militants and over 100 soldiers have been killed so far in the military operation. The operation was started following the failure of peace talks and a deadly attack at the country’s busiest airport in southern port city of Karachi on June 8 in which at least 40 people, including 10 terrorists, were killed.
Earlier on Nov. 2, a suicide bomber exploded his jacket amid a crowd of over 200 people who were returning after attending ‘ lowering of the flags’ ceremony and Rangers parade at the Wagah border crossing point between Pakistan and India. The attack killed at least 62 people and left 150 others injured.