Scores dead as Pakistan Taliban storm army-run school

At least 126 dead and 122 injured as the militants say the attack is revenge for a major military offensive in the region.
A man comforts a boy standing at the bedside of a student who was injured in a Taliban attack on a military school in Peshawar. Mohammad Sajjad / AP Photo
A man comforts a boy standing at the bedside of a student who was injured in a Taliban attack on a military school in Peshawar. Mohammad Sajjad / AP Photo

PESHAWAR // The Pakistani military said four Taliban militants had been killed at a school they attacked in Peshawar on Tuesday, and that they were searching for remaining gunmen.

“Remaining clearance in progress,” the military said in a tweet.

The Taliban said they sent in six gunmen with suicide vests to attack the military-run children’s school.

At least 126 people were killed and 122 injure in the attack, Reuters reported.

“It may rise,” said Bahramand Khan, director of information for the Chief Minister’s Secretariat.

He said more than 100 of the dead were children.

Earlier, Pakistan’s military headquarters said a “rescue operation” was under way and the bulk of staff and students had been evacuated.

A senior military official said troops had surrounded the school and television footage showed them taking up positions.

A senior police official said a “huge blast” had occurred inside the building.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was retaliation for the army’s continuing operation against militants in the North Waziristan tribal area close to Peshawar.

The school on Peshawar’s Warsak Road is part of the Army Public Schools and Colleges System, which runs 146 schools nationwide for the children of military personnel and civilians. Its students are 10- to 18-year-olds.

The schools educate the children of both officers and non-commissioned soldiers and army wives often teach in them.

A security official said that hundreds of students and staff were in the school when the attack began, though it was not clear how many are still being held.

TTP spokesman Muhammad Khorasani told AFP there were six attackers.

“They include target killers and suicide attackers. They have been ordered to shoot the older students but not the children,” he said.

“This attack is a response to Zarb-e-Azab and the killing of Taliban fighters and harassing their families.”

Zarb-e-Azb is the official name for the army’s offensive against strongholds of the Taliban and other militants in North Waziristan.

The military has hailed the operation as a major success in disrupting the TTP’s insurgency, which has killed thousands of Pakistanis since 2007.

More than 1,600 militants have been killed since the launch of Zarb-e-Azb in June, according to AFP data.

Talat Masood, a retired general and security analyst, said the attack was intended to weaken the military’s resolve.

“It is both tactical and strategic. The militants know they won’t be able to strike at the heart of the military, they don’t have the capacity because the army are prepared,” Gen Masood said.

“So they are going for soft targets. These attacks have a great psychological effect.”

* Agencies

Published: December 16, 2014 04:00 AM

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