126 dead as Taliban militants take hundreds hostage at Pakistani military school

Taliban gunmen took hundreds of students hostage at a military-run school in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar on Tuesday, and at least 126 people were killed, officials said.

Most of those killed were children. Fighting was ongoing between soldiers and the militants.

Official report says that they heard heavy gunfire from inside the school as soldiers surrounded it.

Helicopters hovered overhead and ambulances ferried wounded children to hospital.

The Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar, a sprawling and volatile city not far from the Afghan border, said the hospital had received the bodies of at least 18 people and was treating 40 wounded students and two male teachers.

“Many are in the operation theater now in critical condition, undergoing treatment,’’ hospital official Ejaz Khan said.

Provincial Health Minister, Shahram Khan later told reporters that over 50 people had died, including 16 students, a female teacher and a soldier.

The Pakistani Taliban, who are fighting to topple the government and set up a strict Islamic state, had vowed to step up attacks against Pakistani targets in response to a major army operation against the insurgents in the tribal areas.

The army said in a statement that many hostages had been evacuated but did not say how many.

Military officials at the scene said at least six armed men had entered the military-run Army Public School, no fewer than 500 students and teachers were believed to be inside.

Taliban spokesman, Muhammad Khorasani told reporters that his group was responsible for the attack.

“Our suicide bombers have entered the school; they have instructions not to harm the children, but to target the army personnel.

“It is a revenge attack for the army offensive in North Waziristan,’’ he said, referring to the anti-Taliban military offensive that began in June.



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