Pakistan in mourning as parents bury children after school attack

By REUTERS
December 17, 2014 07:39
1 minute read.

 
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PESHAWAR - Pakistan woke up to a day of mourning on Wednesday after Taliban militants killed 132 students at a school in the city of Peshawar in a grisly attack which shocked the nation and put pressure on the government to do more to tackle the insurgency.

People around the country lit candles and staged overnight vigils as parents prepared to bury their children during mass funerals in and around Peshawar - a big, volatile city on the edge of Pakistan's lawless tribal belt.

Pakistanis may be used to almost daily militant attacks against the security forces but an outright assault on children stunned the country, prompting commentators to call for a tough military response.

In Peshawar, the vast grounds of the military-run Army Public School were all but deserted, with a handful of snipers manning the roofs of its pink brick-and-stone buildings.

Army vehicles and soldiers wearing face masks and carrying automatic rifles were deployed by the entrance.

A day after the attack, Peshawar appeared subdued and many were still in shock, recalling the gruesome events and trying to soothe each other. More details of the well-organized attack emerged as witnesses came forward with their stories.

"The attackers came around 10:30 a.m. on a pick-up van," said Issam Uddin, a 25-year-old school bus driver.

"They drove it around the back of the school and set it on fire to block the way. Then they went to Gate 1 and killed a soldier, a gatekeeper and a gardener. Firing began and the first suicide attack took place."

The government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has announced a three-day mourning period but people's anxiety focused on what the authorities can do to protect the country.

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