Taliban gunmen in Peshawar, Pakistan opened fire on hundreds of students and teachers yesterday in a school, military officials said.
At least 132 of the dead were schoolchildren. Another 120 were wounded, chief army spokesman General Asim Bajwa said.
A Reuters journalist at the scene heard heavy gunfire from inside the school as soldiers surrounded it. Helicopters swooped overhead and a fleet of ambulances ferried wounded children to hospital.
Military officials at the scene said up to nine armed men had entered the military-run Army Public School. About 500 students and teachers were believed to be inside.
All the insurgents were eventually killed, but explosive devices planted in school buildings by the militants were still being found.
The school is part of the Army Public Schools and Colleges System. Its students range in age from 10 to 18.
The armed men were reportedly wearing security uniforms, according to BBC. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack, which it claimed was retaliation for the Pakistan army’s continuing operation against militants in the North Waziristan tribal area close to Peshawar.
“Our suicide bombers have entered the school, they have instructions not to harm the children, but to target the army personnel,” Taliban spokesman Muhammad Umar Khorasani told Reuters.
“It’s a revenge attack for the army offensive in North Waziristan,” he said, referring to an anti-Taliban military offensive that began in June.
A teacher said that the attackers targeted the school while exams were taking place.
“After half an hour of the attack, the army came and sealed the school,” another teacher told a private television channel outside the besieged school.
“We were in the examination hall when the attack took place,” he said. “Now the army men are clearing the classes one by one.”
A police officer told The New York Times that the gunmen came into the school and started shooting at random.
A wounded student told the Times that a group of students in the school were receiving first-aid training from Pakistani army medics when the attack began.
(Reuters Reporting by Jibran Ahmad; Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Robert Birsel and Mike Collett-White)
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