Peshawar attack: Pakistan mourns as funerals of victims of Taliban massacre are held

Mourners gathered around coffins draped in flowers as prayer vigils were held across the nation and in other schools after the official mourning period started

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The Pakistani city of Peshawar has begun three days of mourning as funerals started to be held for the 142 victims of the Taliban attack on a military-run school.

Mourners gathered around coffins draped in flowers as prayer vigils were held across the nation and in other schools after the official mourning period started in the wake of the massacre.

Seven militants, armed with guns and explosives strapped to their bodies, opened fire on students and staff at the Army Public School during the eight hour siege yesterday.

A number of victims were believed to have been killed in a suicide blast after the attack started at 10am local time, while further explosions were heard later in the day.

Military sources said one teacher was doused with petrol and burned alive in front of pupils and a suicide bomb was reportedly detonated in a room containing 60 children.

Army commandos fought the Taliban throughout the day until the school was cleared and all the attackers were reported to have been killed.

The Pakistani Taliban said the attack – the deadliest slaughter of innocents in the country – was in revenge for a military offensive against insurgents in the north west of the country.

"We selected the army's school for the attack because the government is targeting our families and females," said Taliban spokesman Muhammad Umar Khorasani. "We want them to feel the pain."

peshawar-funeral2.jpg

Overnight, the body of the school principal, Tahira Qazi, was found among the debris at the school, the Associated Press has reported, raising the death toll of 141 reported yesterday.

Funerals started to be held over night, although most of the 132 children and 10 staff members killed in the attack were due to be buried on Wednesday.

peshawar-funeral3.jpg
People attend the funeral of two school boys who were killed by Taliban militants at a school run by the Army, in Peshawar, Pakistan (EPA)

Labourer Akhtar Hussain was one of the parents burying his child who was killed in the attack.

"They finished in minutes what I had lived my whole life for, my son," he said.

pakistan-funerals.jpg
Pakistani mourners carry the coffin of a victim of an attack by militants on an army-run school during a funeral ceremony in Peshawar on December 17 (AFP)

"That innocent one is now gone in the grave, and I can't wait to join him, I can't live anymore."

The attack has drawn strong condemnation from across the world, with President Barack Obama saying the "terrorists have once again shown their depravity."

peshawar-funeral4.jpg
People attend the funeral of a student killed in Tuesday's Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Wednesday, December 17 (AP)

The Pakistani prime minister meanwhile has lifted a moratorium on the death penalty in the wake of the attack, Reuters has reported.

Mohiuddin Wani, an official close to the Pakistani leader, said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had approved the decision of a ministerial committee to life the moratorium.

Additional reporting by AP and Reuters

Comments