Peshawar attack: Taliban release images of gunmen who killed 132 children as they claim massacre was justified

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Mohammad Khurasani  warned civilians to detach themselves from all military institutions

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The Independent Online

The Taliban gunmen who stormed a school in Pakistan killing 148 people, including 132 children, have been identified by the militant group.

The Pakistani Taliban released the pictures as they issued a statement claiming the attack was justified because the Pakistani army had long been killing innocent children and families of their fighters.

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Mohammad Khurasani also vowed more attacks as he warned civilians to detach themselves from all military institutions.

In photos released by the group, between six and seven men carrying guns can be seen pictured in front of a white banner.

In one photo, the militants are standing with a local Taliban leader, AP has reported.

The Pakistani Taliban released the pictures of the fighters responsible for the Peshawar school massacre as they issued a statement claiming the attack was justified (AP)

In photos released by the Taliban, between six and seven men carrying guns can be seen pictured in front of a white banner (AP)

The statement claimed the picture was taken in one of the Pakistani tribal regions.

The Taliban released the images as pictures showing the devastation left behind following the eight hour siege started to emerge today.

Walls riddled with bullet holes, an auditorium floor covered in blood and a burnt out office could be seen in pictures sent from the scene as journalists were allowed inside the building.


A local reporter walks past a wall full of bullet holes at the Army Public School (Reuters)

Mass funerals were underway today as the death toll rose to 148 after the body of the school's head Tahira Qazi, was found among the debris overnight.

Military spokesman Major General Asim Bajwa said the school principal was inside her office when the attackers made their way into the administration building. He said she locked herself into the bathroom but was killed after a grenade was thrown through a vent and into the room.

As the official three day mourning period started, the prime minister of Pakistan lifted a moratorium on the death penalty in the wake of the massacre.

A Pakistani soldier walks amidst the debris the day after the Taliban attack at the school in Peshawar (AFP)

Taliban gunmen broke into the school before opening fire and killing 132 children, and wounding another 121 along with three staff, in the bloodiest massacre in the country for a number of years.

Maj Gen Bajwa said the attackers made their way into the main auditorium and started shooting randomly at the students, who had gathered for an event.

Students were shot by the gunmen as they tried to flee. Around 100 bodies were later recovered from the auditorium alone, Maj Gen Bajwa said.

There have also been reports that some of the female teachers were burned alive during the attack.


Pakistani security officials inspect the premises in the wake of the attack (EPA)

Pakistan army soldiers stand outside the school's auditorium the day after the Taliban attack (AP)

Army commandos fought the Taliban throughout the day until the school was cleared and all the attackers were reported to have been killed, eight hours after the siege had started.

Wounded children taken to hospital told Reuters news agency how most of the victims were killed when gunmen, wearing explosive strapped to their bodies, started to fire indiscriminately on students and their teachers.

Shahrukh Khan, 15, who was shot in both legs but survived by hiding under a bench, said: "One of my teachers was crying, she was shot in the hand and she was crying in pain.

"One terrorist then walked up to her and started shooting her until she stopped making any sound. All around me my friends were lying injured and dead."

Images which show the inside of the building following the eight hour siege have been posted online by BBC News presenter Mishal Husain.

The Pakistani Taliban, which is fighting to topple the government and set up an Islamic state, immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

"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."

A three-day mourning period has been declared by the government as funerals started to be held for the victims.

Sirajul Haq, head of the Islamic political party Jamat-e-Islami, leads the funeral prayers of two school boys who were killed by Taliban militants at a school run by the Army, in Peshawar, Pakistan (EPA)

Meanwhile, the father of Nobel Peace Prize winning teenager Malala Yousafzai has spoken of the "trauma" his family experienced when they heard the news of the attack on the school yesterday.

In an interview broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Ziauddin Yousafzai described how his wife passed out when they heard the news.

He said: "We have gone through this situation on our family level when two years back my daughter was attacked and the whole world just turned into a dark hole for our family.

"I can imagine just how much sadness and terror and horror these families will be passing through now.

"Yesterday my wife had a fit, she went into unconsciousness for 10 to 15 minutes and then we had to recover her."

Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report