Taliban terrorists stormed a school in Peshawar, Pakistan, today, killing at least 131, according to Pakistani newspaper Dawn.
President Obama released a statement condemning the “heinous” attack on the Army Public School, but didn’t mention the Taliban by name.
“The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms today’s horrific attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims, their families, and loved ones,” Obama said. “By targeting students and teachers in this heinous attack, terrorists have once again shown their depravity.”
“We stand with the people of Pakistan, and reiterate the commitment of the United States to support the Government of Pakistan in its efforts to combat terrorism and extremism and to promote peace and stability in the region.”
A statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad also didn’t mention those responsible. “The United States strongly condemns senseless and inhumane attacks on innocent students and educators, and stands in solidarity with the people of Pakistan, and all who fight the menace of terrorism,” it said.
“Few have suffered more at the hands of terrorists and extremists than the people of Pakistan,” the statement added, saying “that is why it remains essential for the United States and Pakistan to continue to work together to secure peace and stability in the region.”
According to Dawn, initial reports said eight to 10 Taliban staged the attack and by the end six were killed. At least 100 of the dead are children, both boys and girls and mostly in their early teens, and “scores” are injured. The Pakistani Army said they have responded with airstrikes in Khyber.
DG Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj-Gen Asim Bajwa tweeted that the terrorists planted IEDs in the building, which were delaying the rescue of survivors.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the country would observe a three-day period of mourning. “These were my children. This is my loss. This is the nation’s loss,” he said.
A Pakistan Taliban spokesman told CNN that the latest attack was “revenge for the killing of hundreds of innocent tribesmen during repeated army operations in provinces including South Waziristan, North Waziristan and the Khyber Agency.”
Malala Yousazai, the Nobel laureate who was shot in the head by Taliban in 2012 for lobbying for a girl’s right to education, issued a statement saying she was “heartbroken by this senseless and cold blooded act of terror in Peshawar that is unfolding before us.”
“Innocent children in their school have no place in horror such as this,” the 17-year-old said. “I condemn these atrocious and cowardly acts and stand united with the government and armed forces of Pakistan whose efforts so far to address this horrific event are commendable.”
Over the weekend, the Afghanistan Taliban called for an international investigation into the human rights standards of the United States after the Senate Intelligence Committee Democrats released a lengthy report criticizing enhanced interrogation techniques used in the war on terror.
“We call on the international community as well as those international organizations that call themselves champions of human rights, to examine America’s ongoing policy in light of these human rights standards,” the group said.
This harrowing account was relayed by a 16-year-old survivor to an Agence France-Presse reporter:
“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.
“Then one of them shouted: ‘There are so many children beneath the benches, go and get them’,” Salman told AFP.
“I saw a pair of big black boots coming towards me, this guy was probably hunting for students hiding beneath the benches.”
Salman 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,” he said.
“My body was shivering. I saw death so close and I will never forget the black boots approaching me. I felt as though it was death that was approaching me,” Salman added further.
…As his father, a shopkeeper, comforted him in his blood-soaked bed, Salman recalled: “The men left after some time and I stayed there for a few minutes. Then I tried to get up but fell to the ground because of my wounds. When I crawled to the next room, it was horrible. I saw the dead body of our office assistant on fire,” he said.
“She was sitting on the chair with blood dripping from her body as she burned,” Salman added.
It was not immediately clear how the female employee’s body caught fire, though her remains were also later seen by an AFP reporter in a hospital mortuary.
Some of the bodies brought to hospital during the Peshawar school attack have been headless: source
— omar r quraishi (@omar_quraishi) December 16, 2014
Leave the school as it is – with the blood of the innocents – like a macabre museum – and require all apologists to take a tour of it
— omar r quraishi (@omar_quraishi) December 16, 2014