PESHAWAR : The gun battle and suicide attack by terrorists at Army Public School in high red zone of the city left at least 141 people, mostly school students dead, and over 114 injured, said Commissioner Peshawar.
First a bomber managed to enter the auditorium of the school where a seminar was underway and exploded himself up amidst the students. Then other militants wearing military uniforms equipped with the latest weapons, barged into the school and played havoc.
The militants also made the school principal and teachers hostage for eight hours when the operation by law enforcement agencies culminated with the death of all attackers. The forces rescued the school teachers and students in the combing operation.
The operation that commenced at 10 am in the morning ended at around 1800 hours wherein the four terrorists blew themselves up while two were shot dead by the security forces in the midday. However the last two terrorists, who remained hold up around 20 teachers, 34 students and the principal, were gunned down after a fierce gun battle in the dying moments of the operation.
The security forces launched a search and clearance operation inside the school and in its vicinity.
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif along with Interior Minister, Chaudry Nisar Ali Khan rushed to Peshawar and personally monitored the operation from the Governor House. After the ending of the operation, he rushed to the Corps Headquarters for a briefing by the army authorities on what happened inside the school. Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif was also present at the briefing.
The Prime Minister announced a three-day national mourning to express solidarity and sympathies with the families of victims and called a meeting of parliamentary party leaders on Wednesday in Peshawar.
PTI chief Imran Khan announced calling off his December 18 nation-wide strike call following the massacre in the school.
The attack was the most brutal one after Meena Bazar carnage in 2009 and All Saints church incident in 2013.
Talking to the media men at Governor House, Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif expressed his firm resolve to continue the operation Zarb-e-Azb till the elimination of extremists and terrorists. He appealed to the nation to stand united for thwarting the designs of terrorists.
Referring to the terrorist attack on Army Public School, Peshawar this morning, he said, “Such acts of cowardice will not deter our resolve to end terrorism. The operation will continue till the extermination of the last terrorist.”
The Prime Minister said,” There should not be any fissures, differences and divisions in the nation at this critical juncture.”
He said the war against extremists and terrorists had entered into critical phase after successfully achieving many of its stated objectives. He said that the government, the nation and the armed forces stood determined to wipe out the scourge, once for all.
He said unless Pakistan was totally cleared of extremists and terrorists, the war against terrorism would continue.
To a question he said the federal government along with the provincial government would consider a compensation package for the victim families. He said important decisions would also be taken in the wake of the tragedy.
The terrorists targeted the Army Public School in Peshawar in an apparent reaction to the ongoing Zarb-e-Azb operation in North Waziristan.
All the four provincial governments have already announced the three-day mourning, as public, political and religious parties across the divide stood united to condemn the brutal attack and to express the resolve not to yield to the terrorists.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak said that the attackers were dressed in FC uniform. He announced three-day mourning in KPK, besides a compensation package for the victims’ families. He also announced closure of all the educational institutions for three days.
ANP leaders Ghulam Ahmed Bilour and Zahid Khan, Jamaat-i-Islami Ameer Sirajul Haq and Qaumi Watan Party Provincial President Sikandar Hayat Sherpao have strongly condemned the attack and demanded foolproof security for schools and protection of lives of people.
Meanwhile political leaders, cross section of society, social organization and intelligentsia have condemned the callousness of militants who targeted innocent students for their nefarious designs.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bar Council also condemned the attack and announced boycott of the court proceedings. Wifaq-ul-Madaris and City trader’s associations condemned the targeting of children in the attack.