Peshawar attack survivors vow to defy Taliban

Published: December 18, 2014
A mother weeps next to her injured son at a hospital in Peshawar. PHOTO: AFP

A mother weeps next to her injured son at a hospital in Peshawar. PHOTO: AFP

PESHAWAR: Students grieving for their classmates massacred by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan on Thursday vowed to defy the militants and return to school as soon as possible.

A team of gunmen stormed the Army Public School in Peshawar on Tuesday, slaughtering 148 people, including 132 children, in the country’s deadliest ever terror attack.

Schools in Islamabad beefed up security on Thursday and carried out safety drills amid fears of a possible bomb attack targeting school buses.

As the nation observed a second day of official mourning, at the school gates in Peshawar there was defiance and a burning desire for revenge against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), whose seven-year insurgency has killed thousands of ordinary people.

Much of the school was devastated in the eight-hour rampage, with walls peppered with bullets and shrapnel from suicide blasts and walls and floors awash with blood.

But officials pledged to clean and restore the buildings and reopen on January 4 — less than three weeks after the attack.

There were emotional scenes outside the school as hundreds of students and parents gathered to light candles and leave flowers for the dead.

Mohammad Billal, 14, told AFP he would defy his parents’ advice to stay at home, and return to school as soon as he can.

“I will come the moment it opens because I am not scared of terrorists. I know how to send a message to them,” Billal said.

Moakal Jan, 13, lost nine of his friends in the attack but told AFP he too had no fears about returning.

“I study here in this school and I want to continue here, I will be back when it reopens. Life and death is in God’s hands,” Jan said.

Many of the school’s students are the children of army personnel, and like many of his friends, Jan said he wanted to punish the Taliban for Tuesday’s bloodshed.

“I want to be an army officer because I have to take revenge of my friends and school fellows,” he said.

Eighteen-year-old Abu Bakar agreed.

“Since my childhood I have wanted to join the army but now I am absolutely determined to join up,” he said.

“I want to take revenge for my friends, I want to fight the terrorists.”

More than 400 schools in Islamabad were warned of a possible plot to bomb buses carrying students in the capital, Mohammad Tahir Bhatti, spokesperson for the Federal Directorate of Education told AFP.

“We received information from various sources that terrorists were planning to attack buses by attaching magnetic bombs and have alerted the managements of institutions accordingly,” Bhatti said.

Officials of the directorate were also holding meetings to review security arrangements and schools and colleges and also visiting schools and colleges to monitor them, Bhatti said.

One 11-year-old primary school student said teachers had drilled them in emergency exits and routes to safe locations in case of any danger.

“Teacher asked us not to panic and silently follow instructions in case of any dangerous situation,” he told AFP.

“We are very scared since terrorist killed children in Peshawar.”

The TTP claimed Tuesday’s assault as revenge for the killing of its fighters and their families in an ongoing military operation against its strongholds in North Waziristan, and warned more attacks would follow.

Khalifa Umar Mansoor, the TTP commander identified by security sources as the mastermind of the school massacre, said schools like the one in Peshawar were “preparing those generals, brigadiers and majors who killed and arrested so many fighters”.

“If our women and children died as martyrs your children will not escape. If you attack us we will take revenge for the innocents,” he said in a video message posted online.

The political and military leaders have vowed to stamp out the scourge of militancy that has brought so much bloodshed to the country in recent years.

The military said Thursday that air strikes in Khyber tribal area, which borders North Waziristan, had killed 57 militants.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • Zahir
    Dec 18, 2014 - 6:50PM

    Brave children of a brave country. we proud of you my boys. May Allah bless Pakistan.


  • Moiz Omar
    Dec 18, 2014 - 7:46PM

    We Pakistanis will never bow down to these TTP terrorists. We are a country completely united against them. They cannot fight the army, so they attack the children of army personnel. Cowards.


  • just_someone
    Dec 18, 2014 - 9:14PM

    We should be ashamed and proud at the same time.
    Ashamed since we, as the older generations, are scared of terrorists…
    Proud since our children are brave enough to not bow down to terrorists…
    There is hope, not because of us, but because of our amazing children.


  • JD
    Dec 19, 2014 - 8:09AM

    This attitude alone has defeated the terrorists! Bravo!


  • Micheal Banhed
    Dec 19, 2014 - 9:40AM

    First Aitzaz Hasan, Now these lions.

    Pakistan, truly a nation of lions led by lambs!


  • Queen
    Dec 19, 2014 - 3:02PM

    These children are the sons of Pakistan, Proud of them!!


  • jock
    Dec 19, 2014 - 7:32PM

    To borrow from Tennyson again:
    We are not now that strength which in old days
    moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are
    One equal temper of heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate, but strong in will… strive, to seek, to find, and NOT to yield.


  • Murthy
    Dec 20, 2014 - 12:48PM

    That a school, of all institutions, has to function with a lot of security against threats from its owns people speaks volumes of the ability of a nation to govern.


  • Ananda
    Dec 22, 2014 - 2:26AM

    Borthers and sisters can’t be separated for long, however hard anyone may try. I know one day blood will count. When they kill children in peshawar hurts as bad as our children killed. One day I hope we brothers join together and then lets see. Kisne kitna hain dum


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