PESHAWAR— Pakistan is mourning the death of more than 148 people, mostly young children, in an attack on a military-run school in Peshawar. Victims and relatives are pained and outraged at the massacre that authorities say was carried out by Taliban extremists.
The usually bustling city of Peshawar appears subdued and the residents traumatized in the wake of the deadly assault on the school. There are heart-wrenching scenes as families mourn the losses.
Many victims of the carnage are undergoing treatment in the city’s Lady Reading Hospital. Eighteen-year-old Amir Amin is among them. He said he had just finished his chemistry test and was enjoying the sunshine out on the school lawn when the gunfire erupted.
“Some of our teachers standing nearby pushed us into the computer lab for safety and we were all sitting on the floor holding each other’s hand tightly and were crying for help.
"They burst into the room and started indiscriminate fire chanting 'Allah-o-Akbar.' I received the first bullet and fainted while I was holding a two-year-old baby of one of my teachers who was fatally hit in the head. When I gained my consciousness, all the people in the room had been martyred,” said Amin.
His father said Amir’s twin brother also was critically wounded and doctors in the nearby military hospital are trying to save him.
Mohammad Fawad lost his only son, Tayyab. He said his son was not feeling well in the morning, but he still insisted the boy go to school.
“After struggling throughout the day in search of my 14-year old son, I finally located the body late in the evening in one of the hospitals and I could see how brutally he was murdered with bullets penetrated into his head, chest, belly and legs,” said Fawad.
It appears as if every locality in Peshawar has lost loved ones with funerals taking place around the city.
The principal of the school, Tahira Qazi, was buried in the outskirts of Peshawar. Professor Rasoul Bakhsh Rais was among her relatives attending the funeral.
“In Peshawar where every family is mourning the death of someone else because these are close net of very traditional communities and they feel the pain of one another," said Rais. "I have attended one funeral and that is that of the principal, and this principal had the opportunity to escape. But she was determined to save as many children as she could, and by saving children she gave her life.”
Rescue workers requesting anonymity say there were some headless corpses among the scores of children they transported to hospitals.
On Wednesday, the military allowed a group of reporters to tour the Army Public School where the attack occurred. The sprawling grounds of the four-block complex were all but deserted.
Army solders wearing face masks were deployed by the entrance. Some areas were shattered by hours of fighting. Floors were slick with blood, walls perforated with bullets and class rooms filled with abandoned school bags, mobile phones and broken furniture.