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Pakistan comes to terms with Taliban carnage

Richard ConnorDecember 17, 2014

Pakistani leaders have met to discuss how to deal with Tuesday's Taliban school attack in Peshawar, which killed at least 141. The country has begun three days of mourning.

Children in Peshawar pay respects to Peshawar victims
Image: Reuters/A. Soomro

Parents and relatives of children and staff readied themselves for mass funerals in Peshawar, where seven Taliban gunmen attacked a school on Tuesday, killing at least 141 people - mostly children. Nearly 150 people were injured officials said, suggesting that the final death toll could be higher.

Schools all over the country held vigils and journalists reported devastating scenes at the school as they were allowed inside for the first time after the shooting on Tuesday.

"This is not a human act... This is a national tragedy," army spokesman, General Asim Bajwa, told reporters on their tour of the school. The attackers entered the school and made their way to the main auditorium where many students had assembed for an event, Bajwa said. They went to the stage and began randomly firing at the children.

Soldiers also recovered the body of the school principal Tahira Qazi, who locked herself up in a bathroom but was killed when one of the terrorists threw a grenade through a vent.

Prime minister holds all party talks

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met with members of political parties to discuss strategies to prevent such attacks from happening in the future. He said that the army was "making an effort to get rid of terrorism in Pakistan."

Islamabad was also removing the ban on the death penalty for extremists, Sharif announced. "The prime minister has approved abolishment of (the) moratorium on the execution of death penalty in terrorism related cases," Sharif's office said in a statement. Pakistan's government placed a moratorium on death penalties in 2008.

Several courts have passed death sentences since then, but only one person has been executed - a soldier convicted by a court martial and hanged in November 2012.

Indian schoolchildren pay homage

Schools in India observed two minutes of silence to mourn victims of the Peshawar tragedy. Politicians at the parliament in New Delhi also mourned the victims.

The Indian Home Ministry has asked police to keep close check on schools, according to local media reports.

Indian leaders also conveyed their condolences to their Pakistani counterparts. "In their darkest hour, we reached out and expressed our heartfelt condolences to the grief-stricken families, transcending boundaries and differences," Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj was quoted by German press agency dpa as saying.

The imam of Delhi's Jama Masjid mosque, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, said the attack was against humanity and that the "Taliban have defamed Islam."

mg/jr (dpa, AP,AFP)