|A candle light vigil in Islamabad, for the victims of the school attack in Pesharwar Photograph: Anjum Naveed/AP|
More than 130 people, and over 100 of them children, have been killed in a Pakistani Taliban attack at an army school in Peshawar, according to local officials.
Six or more attackers, dressed in army uniform, mounted the assault on the school for the children of army personnel shortly after 11am. Hundreds were in the school at the time, the Guardian reports.
The attackers, some of them wearing suicide vests, managed to get into the school from the roof of a van parked next to a wall that abuts a graveyard, according to local police. They began firing at random. Another blew himself up as security guards approached.
The Pakistan Taliban, Tehreek-e-Taliban, claimed responsibility, saying it was in revenge for a ferocious army offensive in the tribal areas since June. The Taliban spokesman Muhammad Umar Khorasani said;
"We selected the army’s school for the attack because the government is targeting our families and females. We want them to feel the pain."
A student who was in the school at the time of the attack told local media: “The gunmen entered class by class and shot some kids one by one.”
Fighting continued in the school more than four hours after the attack began. Police were struggling to hold back distraught parents trying to break through a cordon to reach the school when there were three loud explosions after 3.30pm.
The AP has spoken with several students and their relatives.
“My son was in uniform in the morning. He is in a casket now,” wailed one parent, Tahir Ali, as he came to the hospital to collect the body of his 14-year-old son Abdullah. “My son was my dream. My dream has been killed.”
One of the wounded students, Abdullah Jamal, said that he was with a group of 8th, 9th and 10th graders who were getting first-aid instructions and training with a team of Pakistani army medics when the violence began for real. Jamal described a scene of panic and terror,
“I saw children falling down crying and screaming. I also fell down. I learned later that I got shot.”
“Someone screamed at us to get down and hide below the desks,” he said, adding that the gunmen shouted “Allahu akbar” [God is greatest] before opening fire.
“I saw a pair of big black boots coming towards me, this guy was probably hunting for students hiding beneath the benches.”
“There are so many children beneath the benches, go get them,” one of the men ordered another.
Khan said he felt searing pain as he was shot in both his legs just below the knee.
He decided to play dead, adding: “I folded my tie and pushed it into my mouth so that I wouldn’t scream.
“The man with big boots kept on looking for students and pumping bullets into their bodies. I lay as still as I could and closed my eyes, waiting to get shot again.
“My body was shivering. I saw death so close. I will never forget the black boots approaching me – I felt as though it was death that was approaching me.”
Khan told AFP he waited until the men left, then realized he couldn’t stand and crawled to the next room, where he saw the burned body of the school office assistant. He crawled behind a door to hid and lost consciousness, awaking in the hospital with his father.
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|Soldiers stand guard near the site of the attack. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty|
|A man lights candles to mourn the victims. Photograph: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters|
|Schoolgirls pray for victims. Photograph: Nadeem Khawer/EPA|
|Pakistani students near the site of the attack. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images|
|Pakistani soldiers take position as others sweep the school. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty|
|Pakistani rescue workers take students injured in the shootout to hospital. Photograph: Mohammad Sajjad/AP|
|A plainclothes security officer escorts students rescued an army school during a Taliban attack in Peshawar, Pakistan Photograph: Mohammad Sajjad/AP|
|Schoolchildren cross a road as they move away from a military run school that is under attack by Taliban gunmen in Peshawar Photograph: Khuram Parvez/REUTERS|