A deadly, hours-long siege of a school in northwest Pakistan ended Tuesday evening with all the Taliban militants responsible killed, at least 130 people — most of them children — dead and a country once again grasping for answers after a horrific attack.
Six suicide bombers scaled the walls of Army Public School and Degree College in the violence-plagued city of Peshawar around 10 a.m. (midnight ET) intent on killing
older students there, according to Mohammed Khurrassani, a spokesman for the Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan, or Pakistan Taliban.
These Taliban had “300 to 400 people … under their custody” at one point, Khurrassani said.
Pakistani troops responded, fending off gunfire and improvised explosive devices planted by terrorists as they went through the compound, building by building, room by room. By 4 p.m., they had managed to confine the attackers to four buildings, and a few hours later, Peshawar police Chief Mohammad Aijaz Khan said that all of them were dead.
Still, the ordeal wasn’t over.
Pakistani authorities continued clearing the school in Peshawar, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the country’s capital, Islamabad, wary of planted explosives and other potential threats.
Making sure others weren’t still hiding for their safety, counting the dead and treating the wounded — 182, according to provincial Information Minister Mushtaq Ghani — remained pressing tasks as well. Pictures showed victims being treated at a nearby hospital. The 130 killed don’t include the slain militants.
In a tweet, military spokesman Gen. Asim Bajwa called the attack a “ghastly act of cowardice in killing innocents” that, in his view, proves that the Taliban are “not only enemies of (Pakistan) but enemies of humanity.”
“They have hit at the heart of the nation,” Bajwa said. “But … they can’t in any way diminish the will of this great nation.”