PESHAWAR: The aim of the terrorists was to inflict maximum damage as they did not try to take any hostages, Army spokesperson Major General Asim Bajwa told reporters on Tuesday evening.
Addressing a press conference in Peshawar, Maj Gen Bajwa said that the terrorists entered the school from the lesser guarded rear entrance backside using a ladder. He added that the militants started to fire their weapons indiscriminately as soon as they entered the school auditorium. The children were killed in groups, he said. “This shows that they [terrorists] did not want to take any hostages.”
But Bajwa added that they were trying to uncover the depth of the militant’s plan given that the army had recovered ammunitions and rations from the militants which could have seen them last for days.
Quick army action rescued dozens
The ISPR DG said that within 15 minutes of the attack, a Quick Response Force (QRF) of the military had reached the school and started an operation against terrorists. Bajwa said that a total of 1099 students and staff were registered in the school, and that security forces managed to rescue 960 of them. Of these, 121 had been injured. Total 132 children and nine staffers were killed in the attack, he added.
While sharing the operational details of the terror attack and the subsequent counter-operation, the army spokesperson said that QRF pushed the seven terrorists back and confined them to the administration block.
He added that the Chief of Army Staff Genral Raheel Sharif directed an SSG group and its specialised unit SSG to conduct a rescue operation.
During the rescue operation, one of the attackers was killed at the door of the auditorium, while three others were sniped through the windows of the administration block. The remaining three militants were killed as the security forces stormed the admin block.
The operation left seven SSG personnel and two officers injured.
Bajwa claimed that the militants were in contact with their handlers during the attack and that soon after the QRF had moved in, the army intercepted their communication. “We know who they are and who they were in contact with but details can not be share due to operation reasons.”
“They were aware of locations and they must have carried out the recce of the area. And it is highly possible that someone from inside might have tipped them off,” said Bajwa.
The military spokesperson said that the area has been cleared and school has been handed back to its administration. However, an army cordon around the school was maintained late into the night as the military conducted controlled demolitions of recovered explosives.
Dispelling reports that there were intelligence intercepts warning of possible attacks on government and military installations, Bajwa said there were general threats regarding a terrorist attack on government and army installations since the start of Operation Zar-e-Azb, but the school had not been mentioned specifically.