At least 132 students and nine staff were killed in an eight-hour onslaught at the army-run school in the city of Peshawar Tuesday (December 16). The 141 death toll makes it the country's deadliest ever terror attack. Another 124 people were injured.
Giving account of the harrowing attack, an eye witness said the terrorists set to fire the vehicle in which they had arrived before they stormed the school building.
Later, police said, the bloody raid on the army-run school ended, with all six attackers dead. Provincial chief minister Pervez Khattak said the attackers were wearing uniforms of the government paramilitary Frontier Corps.
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 range in age from around 10 to 18.
The Taliban have claimed
responsibility for the attack. Pakistani media reported Taliban spokesman
Muhammad Umar Khorasani as saying that his group was responsible for the
attack. "Our suicide bombers have entered the school, they have
instructions not to harm the children, but to target the army personnel,"
"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 this year. "We will target every institution linked to the army unless they stop operations and the extra-judicial killing of our detainees," he said adding: "Our detainees are being killed and their bodies are thrown on roads."
More than 1,600 'militants' have been killed since the army launch of Zarb-e-Azb in June this year, according to data compiled by AFP from regular military statements.
Not surprisingly, the military's response to the Taliban attack aerial bombing of 'militant' targets. According to official sources 22 suspected militants were killed when Pakistan Air Force (PAF) jet fighters pounded the hideouts of terrorists in Bara Tehsil of Khyber Agency.
The Peshawar Army School carnage refreshes the memories of another savage attack on a religious school in Bajour in October 2006 killing 82 students. A US drone reportedly launched the devastating strike sparking nationwide protests.
The military operations in Pakistan's tribal territory along the border with Afghanistan continue, at the behest of the United States, behind a smoke screen. It is a no go area for newsmen or independent observers. The only source of casualties is Pakistan army's information bureau known as the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
Pakistan is paid by the US for its military operations from the Coalition Support Fund. According to Blumberg News, as of 2013, the U.S. had paid Pakistan $11 billion out of the Pentagon's coalition support fund budget as reimbursement for Pakistan's military efforts aiding U.S. counterterrorism operations. Pakistan received a $370 million installment from this fund in October last. The US Congress recently extended the Coalition Support Fund for Pakistan for a year. Pakistan will receive $300 million during fiscal year 2015 for its operations in the tribal territories.
The brutal military operation has created a huge humanitarian problem. It displaced three million people from North Waziristan Agency (NWA) after the launch of Operation Zarb-e-Azb on June 15. These people are living in very bad condition. Recently, two IDPs were killed and several others injured in Bannu when police opened fire on the IDPs on ration distribution.
August last, Pakistan Awami Party Senator Afrasiab Khattak raised the specter of East Pakistan debacle while talking about the plight of the tens of thousands of tribesmen displaced by the ongoing military operation in North Waziristan Agency. "Like the people of Bengal [erstwhile East Pakistan], the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa can also demand a separate state if the government doesn't pay attention to their needs," he said while speaking in the Senate.
Ironically, the tragic attack on Peshawar school coincided with the 43rd commemoration of the surrender of Pakistan Army in East Pakistan which became Bangladesh a day later, on December 17, 1971. Over 90,000 Pakistani troops surrendered to the Indian forces backing the Bangali guerrillas who were fighting the Pakistan Army for independence because of political maneuvering, social injustices and economic deprivation by the ruling elite of West Pakistan.