Terrorists storm military-run school, killing over 100 children; Taliban calls attack revenge for gov’t targeting their families; military says 4 gunmen killed, search ongoing.
Pervez Khattak, the chief minister of the province where the attack occurred, says that roughly the same number of students have been wounded.
Bahramand Khan, director of information for the Chief Minister’s Secretariat, said more than 100 of the dead were school children.
Taliban gunmen stormed the school in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar on Tuesday, officials said, in the highest-profile militant attack to hit the troubled region in months.
The attack began in the morning hours, with the gunmen entering the school — which has students in grades 1-10 — and shooting at random, said police officer Javed Khan. Army commandos quickly arrived at the scene and exchanged fire with the gunmen, he said.
Pakistani television showed soldiers surrounding the area and pushing people back.
Police said they heard three loud explosions coming from inside the school.
The military said they had killed four of the gunmen, while they were searching for the remaining terrorists.
The Pakistani military said in a statement that a rescue operation was underway and that most of the students and the staff had been evacuated. The school is located on the edge of a military cantonment in Peshawar, but the bulk of the students are civilian.
Later, 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.
When the shooting started, Jamal, who was shot in the leg, said nobody knew what was going on in the first few seconds.
“Then I saw children falling down who were crying and screaming. I also fell down. I learned later that I have got a bullet,” he said, speaking from his hospital bed.
“All the children had bullet wounds. All the children were bleeding,” Jamal added.
Taliban spokesman Mohammed Khurasani claimed responsibility for the attack in a phone call to media, saying that six suicide bombers had carried out the attack in revenge for the killings of Taliban members at the hands of Pakistani authorities. “We selected the army’s school for the attack because the government is targeting our families and females,” he said. “We want them to feel the pain.”
Peshawar has been the target of frequent militant attacks in the past but has seen a relative lull recently.