Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Peshawar School Tragedy

Taliban Attacks Students in Pakistan

Tragedy Begins:     
A group of Taliban gunmen attacked a school in Northern Pakistan on Tuesday morning, 16th Dec, which resulted in the killing of atleast 145 people, most of the students were under the age of 15. More than 180 others were injured. Police say the siege, which lasted about eight hours, is now over, with all of the terrorists dead. Other officials said four of the attackers blew themselves up in suicide attacks, though there were as many as 9 attackers. 

The Army Public School is a military-run primary school for the children of army members in Peshawar, in the northern part of the country, near the border with Afghanistan. 

Claim of the Attack: 
Pakistani Taliban sources claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was retaliation for ongoing government offensive - Zarb e Azb; against them in the region of North Waziristan. 

Witnesses Account:
Witnesses says as many as six men scaled the fence of the school and began opening fire on students. Many students were reportedly killed by a suicide bomb in the school courtyard. The attackers then went room to room, shooting indiscriminately at children and teachers.

One witness told the BBC, "We ducked under the tables and chairs, but they shot at our heads and legs. The kept firing and coming further inside the room, but we did not move because they shot at anyone who moved."  
(Eds Note: It seemed that the terrorists wanted to take their lives or else make them disabled for their lives)

School Auditorium Account:
The worst of the assault happened in an auditorium, where several classes had been gathered for first-aid training. One student who survived shared with European "Radio Free Europe: journalist that, "It was 10:30 this morning when we were called to an auditorium to get first-aid training by an army colonel. When we walked in, gunshots erupted and [the militants] entered the auditorium. They killed many students —I saw about 40 to 50 students killed in front of me—and they also fired at the colonel."
(Eds Note: It seemed that the terrorists were aware of the fact that the School Auditorium will have lot of school children, so that they can attack them at massive hit, causing maximum loss to precious lives)

According to the BBC World Service, the attack is believed to be an attempt to demoralize and humiliate the military. However, it may have the unintended effect of finally uniting the nation against the groups that have claimed tens of thousands of lives in Pakistan in the last 15 years. Today, both Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and opposition leader Imran Khan issued strong statement condemning the attack, insisting the military offensive—which began in June with stated goal of driving the Taliban out of the region—will continue.

PM Nawaz Sharif said today that “This is a decisive moment in the fight against terrorism.The people of Pakistan should unite in this fight. Our resolve will not be weakened by these attacks." This is the deadliest terrorist attack in Pakistan since 2007, when 140 people were killed in an assassination attempt on former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was later killed by another bomber.

WORLD LEADERS Opinion on the Attack:
World leaders elsewhere have condemned the attack as well. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called it "unspeakable brutality." France's Francois Hollande called it "despicable" and the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Richard Olson, says the country "stands in solidarity with the people of Pakistan, and all who fight the menace of terrorism."

In a statement released by the White House, President 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."

Turkey has declared a National Mourning Day on 17 the Dec 2014.

Pakistan's Malala Yousafzai, who received the Nobel Peace Prize last week for her advocacy of education in Pakistan, said "I, along with millions of others around the world, mourn these children, my brothers and sisters—but we will never be defeated." Her co-winner, India's Kailash Satyarthi, told network NDTV that "I beg the Taliban, take me and leave these children."


---------------> Words are hard to find when concluding incidents of tragedy and being a mother myself, I find it VERY hard to compile information about young children deaths and that too so horrifying and horrendous. It is very easy to condemn the attack and attend to the injured in hospitals - but what we need are concrete steps from government to protect the lives of Pakistanis and to take adequate security measures.

Tomorrow, on 17th Dec, APC , All Parties Conference is scheduled to take place in Islamabad. The ongoing political row between PML N (Ruling Government) and PTI, will take new turns and Imran Khan is said to attend the APC, but the real test lies in making our country free from the terrorists rides. 

The Pakistan political leaders have to think now that their differences are very small and petty - but human life is live. They have to forget that elections were rigged or fixed, time is of essence which demands to "protect the human life constituency" under respect and safety.

Compiled and Edited By:

KANWAL ABIDI  (Online News Editor of 063 News)

 * Journalist / Political Analyst    

Time of the story being filed:    11.45 pm   16.12.2014

This is a developing story and I will continue to update as more information becomes available.