PESHAWAR: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif on Monday morning visited the Army Public School, Peshawar – target of the December 16 attack – as it reopened after an extended winter break, Radio Pakistan reported.
The vacations, in schools across the country, were extended for 12 days in the aftermath of the Taliban attack on Army Public School (APS) that killed 150 people in the Peshawar.
The COAS, along with his wife, met the schoolchildren and their parents at the entrance of the army-run school.
DG ISPR Major General Asim Bajwa tweeted about the army chief’s visit.
Shahrukh Khan, a teenage victim – shot in both legs – of deadly attack told AFP that he had lost 30 of his friends and that he will have mixed feelings sitting in an empty class.
“I have lost 30 of my friends. How will I sit in the empty class, how will I look towards their empty benches?” he told AFP before the school reopened.
“My heart has been broken. All the class fellows I had, have died. Now my heart does not want to attend school,” he added.
While, another survivor, Zahid Ayub, said he was not scared to attend his school.
“I will go and will tell the attackers, we are not afraid of you,” he added.
At least 20 soldiers were seen at the main entry point of the APS in the morning, with an airport-style security gate installed at the front.
Elevated boundary walls with steel wire fencing were also put in place around Peshawar and in schools throughout the rest of the country.
Parents spoke of having to sit down with their children and mentally prepare them for their return to the school, which has undergone a complete renovation to remove all traces of the bloody attack.
“He was terrified but we talked him up. We cannot keep him imprisoned between four walls and we must stand against militancy,” Muhammad Zahoor said as he walked his son along the city’s main Warsak Road.
“I want to go to school to see my friends. I will join the army after my schooling and will take revenge,” said Muhammad Zaid, his son.
Survivors recounted Taliban gunmen moving from room to room hunting for students and teachers. Sometimes the militants toyed with them and pretended they would let them go, before lining them up and shooting them in front of their peers.
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Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar, during his visit to the college in Lahore, expressed discontent over ineffective security arrangements made in the institution. The governor, as a result, announced a new date for the reopening of the college.