More than 140 people are dead after Taliban forces stormed a school in the northwestern city of Peshawar, Pakistan, and opened fire on students and teachers. All but about ten of the victims are children.
The Taliban are at war with Pakistan, trying to topple the government and set up an Islamic state.
They say they chose the school, which includes grades one through ten, because many of the students are the children of Pakistani soldiers and, “we want them to feel our pain.”
Hospitals made an urgent appeal for blood as ambulances continued to ferry in more young victims. Distraught family members waited for news of their loved ones, combing through lists of the wounded.
One young boy who escaped described the attack.
“Suddenly there was gunfire behind us,” he said. “Some kids were killed and I was shot in the back. The army came then and killed some of the terrorists, the others ran away.”
Other students said they hid under desks as their classmates were picked off around them.
The siege began at around 10 a.m. At least seven attackers stormed into the military-run school, opening fire indiscriminately on teachers and students with guns and grenades.
Soon after, Pakistani army commandos arrived on the scene. Gunfire and explosions were heard from inside. The militants had planted bombs throughout the school.
Anguished parents gathered outside to wait for news. Some students were able to flee and were quickly shepherded to safety — but many didn’t make it.
The Pakistani Taliban claimed the attack was revenge for ongoing military operations in northern Waziristan that have targeted their hide-outs near the Afghan border.
As families began to bury their dead, the government declared three days of mourning.
Terrorist attacks are all too common in Pakistan, but few have been as deadly or as brutal as this one.