The horrific attack on the Peshawar school is the terrorists's retaliation for the Zarb-e-Azb military operation in North Waziristan, reports Shahzad Raza from Peshawar.
The day began without a hint of what was to come in Peshawar's chilly mist. It turned horrendously bloody by the noon. Taliban terrorists stormed the Army Public School at Warsak Road in Peshawar, killing more than 120 children, teachers and other staff.
More than 126 deaths -- including 100 children -- have been confirmned so far and the death toll is expected to rise. 1,500 students were at the school when the attack took place.
The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the worst-ever attack on children in the country's history. 'We killed your children the way you killed ours,' a Taliban spokesman stated.
Some 200 kilometres from the federal capital Islamabad, Peshawar is a front-line city in the war against the Taliban terrorists. It borders lawless tribal areas where the Taliban runs amuck despite military operations against the terrorists.
Heart-breaking scenes were witnessed at the Lady Reading Hospital. Parents who had lost their children were inconsolable. Every eye was tearful. The hospital administration declared an emergency. O negative blood was badly needed.
"Mother! where are you?" cried one injured child. He was among dozens of children being given emergency treatment.
Outside the hospital a mother was wailing. Her child was missing. She looked anxiously into every ambulance coming from the school.
Some welfare organisations brought dozens of wooden coffins. This is not the future parents had thought for their children.
Security officials said six to eight terrorists -- believed to be Arabs and Uzbeks -- barged into the school. They wore paramilitary uniforms with explosive vests strapped to their bodies. The murderers arrived in a Toyota van and burnt the vehicle before entering the school.
According to some reports the terrorists were members of Omar Khalid Khorasan's Jamatul Ahrar, a breakaway faction of the TTP. This group operates in the Mohmmand Agency, one of the seven tribal regions in Pakistan's north.
"We were having a farewell party when the shooting started. We fell to the ground, but didn't know what was coming," a shattered student told journalists. The terrorists shot many teenagers at point blank range.
More than 60,000 Pakistanis have lost their lives since the war against terror began after 9/11.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf chief Imran Khan and army chief General Raheel Sharif arrived in Peshawar. The city is the provincial capital of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which is governed by Imran Khan's party.
Khan, who is spearheading an anti-Nawaz Sharif campaign, has postponed a country-wide strike, scheduled for Thursday, December 18.
The federal and provincial governments have announced three days of mourning.
Corps Commander Peshawar Lieutenant General Hidayatur Rehman personally led the operation conducted by elite military commandos from the Pakistan army's Zarrar Company.
A military spokesperson said six terrorists have been killed and an operation is under way to clear the premises. One terrorist blew himself outside the school's main hall.
In June, the security forces launched a massive military operation, Zarb-e-Azb, in North Waziristan. After stiff resistance the security forces flushed the terrorists out from their strongholds. Many terrorists were killed. Many fled to Afghanistan.
The attack on the Peshawar school is retaliation for the military's offensive against the TTP.
Image: An injured student being taken to hospital.
Photograph: Khuram Parvez/Reuters