Slaughter of Pakistani Students Points to Intra-Islamic Unrest

( [email protected] ) Dec 17, 2014 06:43 PM EST
Pakistan School Attack by Taliban
A Pakistani girl, who was injured in a Taliban attack in a school, is rushed to a hospital in Peshawar, on Dec. 16, 2014. MOHAMMAD SAJJAD—AP

Tuesday's Taliban attack on a military school in Peshawar, Pakistan left more than 130 children - ranging in ages from 12 to 16-years-old - dead at the hands of Islamic terrorists.    

The Army Public School and College - whose motto is 'I shall rise and shine' - educates more than 1,100 students in the country's northern region, and is run by the Pakistani military.  Following the massacre, the Tehreek-e-Taliban group quickly took responsibility for the deliberate killing of innocent children, and released a callous statement on Wednesday.  

"We selected the army's school for the attack because the government is targeting our families and females," said Taliban spokesman Muhammad Umar Khorasani. "We want them to feel the pain."

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attacks and immediately traveled to the school upon learning of the situation.  He also announced three days of mourning.

On Tuesday, he promised that the military would continue its operations, and later in the day, more air strikes were carried out in response to the attack on the school.

"The fight will continue. No one should have any doubt about it," Sharif said. 

He also lifted a moratorium on the death penalty in response to the senseless killings.

Killing the Innocent

Reports of bombs throughout the school, as well as several suicide bombers blowing themselves up when authorities arrived, were an effort to thwart any attempts to stop the attack. 

Army commandos arrived at the school quickly and began exchanging gun fire with the terrorist, according to Javed Khan, a local police officer.   When shots and explosions stopped, 132 children were dead, and 121 students and staff injured.  The death toll reached 141 as of Wednesday - with all seven attackers killed at the scene.

More than 100 of the children murdered were receiving first-aid instruction and training from a team of Pakistani Army medics in a large auditorium.

"My son was in uniform in the morning. He is in a casket now," said Tahir Ali, a grieving parent who was at a Pakistani hospital to recover the body of his 14-year-old son Abdullah. "My son was my dream. My dream has been killed."

Intra-Islamic Battle

While Pakistan is an Islamic state, it is reported to be in association with the Afghan Taliban while fighting against its own Taliban forces. 

Tuesday's bloodbath brings to light the underlying intra-Islamic struggle that has the Taliban fighting to overthrow the Pakistani government.  The Taliban considers the Pakistani government an insufficient Islamic force and is working to replace the existing regime with one that will militantly uphold Sharia law.

But following Tuesday's attack, the Tehreek-e-Taliban does not have the support of all Islamic groups in the region.

"This is a totally un-Islamic and inhumane act. Terrorism, extremism and endangering the lives of innocent people, in any form and with any objective, is condemned," Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said Tuesday.

The Afghan Taliban also spoke out against the horrific incident.

"The intentional killing of innocent people, children and women are against the basics of Islam and this criteria has to be considered by every Islamic party and government," spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a released statement.

Tuesday's killings were an apparent response to actions taken by the government in Pakistan against the Pakistani Taliban which resulted in deaths among their civilians.

President Barack Obama spoke with Prime Minister Sharif on Tuesday and extended "unwavering support" in the wake of the attacks.