Peshawar school massacre: Key 'mastermind' behind Taliban attack 'killed in shoot-out'

Police official said key planner was gunned down during Christmas Day raid

The militant suspected of being a key to planning a massacre at a Peshawar school has been killed in a raid on Christmas Day, a police official in Pakistan has claimed.

Shahab Ali Shah, head of police administration in the Khyber tribal area, said the alleged planner of the attack which killed 148 people, 132 of them children, died during a raid in the Bara area late Thursday night.

Shah told the Associated Press that the militant, identified only as Saddam, was gunned down in the hour-long shootout, while his six accomplices were injured and taken for questioning.

His claims could not be immediately verified. Reports a week ago had named Umar Mansoor, a father of three, as the militant responsible for orchestrating the attack. Monsoor took responsibility for the slaughter in a video posted online

Shah said Saddam helped plan the Peshawar school attack and was also involved in attacks on health workers giving polio vaccinations in the Peshawar valley.

The horrific attack by the Taliban saw a moratorium on the death penalty for terrorists lifted and Pakistan respond with air strikes against militants.

Militants strapped with explosive devices broke into the military-run school on 16 December and fired indiscriminately at classrooms.

Additional reporting by agencies

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