Pakistani Taliban assaults military high school in Peshawar

A suicide assault team from the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan (or Pakistani Taliban) stormed a military high school in Peshawar today. It is one of the deadliest jihadist attacks in the country’s history. According to initial reporting, the attackers have killed more than 140 people, including scores of children.

At least nine Taliban fighters armed with assault weapons and suicide vests entered the Army Public School in Peshawar, the capital of the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, this morning. The fighters fanned out through the school and killed everyone in their path, according to press reports.

Shahrukh Khan, a child who survived the attack by feigning death after being shot in both legs, told Agence France Presse (AFP) that the Taliban fighters were instructed to kill the students. The terrorists deliberately executed students who were already wounded.

“There are so many children beneath the benches, go and get them,” one Taliban fighter told another, according to Khan.

“The man with big boots kept on looking for students and pumping bullets into their bodies. I lay as still as I could and closed my eyes, waiting to get shot again,” Khan stated. The fighters shouted “Allahu Akbar,” or Allah is greatest, as they executed the children.

Pakistani officials have stated that 132 students and nine teachers have been killed, but warned that the death toll may rise, Reuters reported.

At least 15 explosions were heard during the fighting, Dawn reported. Pakistani security forces surrounded the building and assaulted as the Taliban continued to execute students and staff. The military claimed it killed nine Taliban fighters, but more may have been involved in the attack. Troops are still searching the building for Taliban fighters and survivors.

Muhammad Khurasani, the official spokesman for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, claimed the gruesome assault and admitted that his fighters intentionally targeted civilians.

“We selected the army’s school for the attack because the government is targeting our families and females,” Khurasani said, according to Reuters. “We want them to feel the pain.” Khurasani is referring to the current Pakistani military operation in the tribal agencies of North Waziristan and Khyber, which are adjacent to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Pakistani military is targeting the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and jihadist organizations such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, but is leaving groups such as the Haqqani Network and the Hafiz Gul Bahadar Group alone.

The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan has targeted military high school students in the past. In 2009, the jihadist group kidnapped hundreds of students as they fled their military school in Ramzak, North Waziristan. The Taliban ultimately released the students as part of a prisoner exchange.

The Taliban has also launched numerous attacks on soft targets such as churches, mosques, shrines, markets, hotels, and even hospitals. Thousands of civilians have been killed in those attacks since the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan was formed in late 2006.

The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan has also plotted against the US. In an email first sent to The Long War Journal, the group claimed responsibility for the May 2010 attempted bombing in New York City’s Times Square. [See LWJ report, Pakistani Taliban claim credit for failed NYC Times Square car bombing.]

The US has targeted the organization’s top commanders as part of its drone campaign. Baitullah Mehsud, the group’s founder and first leader, was killed by an American missile in August 2009. In late 2013, Baitullah’s successor, Hakeemullah Mehsud, was also killed in an American airstrike. Hakeemullah had gloated over the failed Times Square attack in the group’s propaganda prior to his demise.

Hakeemullah was replaced by Mullah Fazlullah, but his appointment as emir of the Pakistani Taliban proved to be unpopular within the terrorist group’s ranks. Earlier this year, key constituencies that were part of Baitullah’s original coalition began peeling away to go on their own. Much of the group founded by Baitullah no longer answers to Fazlullah. One of the larger blocs to break away from Fazlullah’s leadership has rebranded itself as the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan Jamaat-ul-Ahrar. Other commanders have reportedly pledged their allegiance to Islamic State emir Abu Bakr al Baghdadi.

[For more on the dissolution of the original Pakistani Taliban alliance, see LWJ report: Discord dissolves Pakistani Taliban coalition.]

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal.

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16 Comments

  • Birbal Dhar says:

    Pakistan has sown seeds of terror for over 25 years. Now the same terrorists they created have turned guns against them. Full circle.

  • yash says:

    Pak is happy sending murderers to neighboring nations and calling them freedom fighters…..now they are getting a taste of their own medicines…….

  • Tom says:

    Scum Bags

  • TurkeyBurgers says:

    It is crazy to think this nation has a very large nuclear weapons stockpile that exists alongside a large group of people who hold an ideology that schools, education, science, experiment, logic, reason and rational discourse are the purest evils against Islam.
    We tried torture, we tried drone strikes, we tried influencing them by imbedding soldiers to live among them for a decade.
    You cannot use reason and logic with a belief system that considers reason and logic to be vile and disgusting insults to Allah. They only recognize violence. And the more troops that we pull out of Afghanistan, the more the old fundamentalism will rear it’s head back again and creep across the border to Pakistan. Those soccer stadiums will once again will up with stonings and beheading.

  • JRP says:

    If it will be recalled, about 10 years ago there occurred the Beslan School Massacre in Russia in which even more lives were lost. The Ukraine situation is a distraction that causes us to lose sight of the fact that the War on Terror is our major problem. Rather than trying to cripple the Russian economy over a regional issue like Ukraine, we should be allied with Russia to defeat international terrorism. Stalin was worse than Putin, but we allied ourselves with him to defeat the Nazis in WWII. We’ve got to get our priorities straight!

  • Nicholas says:

    I’m waiting for the day an islamist group in Pakistan gets its hands on one of Pakistan’s 130+ nuclear bombs – wikipedia reports at least three assaults on facilities in Pakistan with nuclear devices, its only a matter of time.

  • rick says:

    Would this be the “good” Taliban or the “bad” Taliban that carried out this attack?

  • naresh c says:

    Who are Pakistanis blaming for this?
    RAW, mossad, CIA, blackwater, 4th generation warfare, zionists?

  • Evan says:

    It’s a sad day in Pakistan.
    The only real hope the Pakistanis have, is learning from things like this. You can’t continuously play both sides without getting burned from both ends, it’s just apart of the territory.
    When that territory happens to be completely outside of the central governments authority or control, and infested with jihadis from all over the planet that is….
    The military families that lost sons in this attack will be left with nothing in the way of closure or satisfaction that justice is served against the people that planned this attack and their organization…. That’s not how things “work” in Pakistan I guess…
    Infact, not only Pakistan, but all of planet Earth can take away a very grave and valuable lesson at the gross expense of the Pakistanis… That is, that the enemy that we all face, the islamo fascist terrorist movement, inspired by Wahhabi Islam, that we are fighting all over the globe, wether it be AQ, AQAP, AQIM,AQIS,HUJI,LET,IS,AAS,ANF, Ansar Al Sharia anywhere, they are all the same, they are all without conscience when it comes to your life or property, they are absolutely vicious, ruthless, and evil, they will gladly kill themselves to slaughter un armed children in cold blood, and most importantly, they require a strategy of complete and TOTAL WAR to be defeated. Every last man, and anyone else who is either a combatant, or a professor of and believer in their evil hate filled ideology, which are one in the same, must be utterly defeated on the battlefield. No treaties, no bargains, no talks, no hearts and minds. Just destroy them now, they can’t be contained, or controlled. You can’t negotiate with them. All you can do is kill them. That’s what its going to take, for the world to be free of this evil blight on humanity.

  • Arjuna says:

    Nine attackers in “paramilitary uniforms” (presumably those of the vaunted Paki Rangers, cough cough) perpetrated this abomination. A very sad victim list, but a run of the mill attack. This how exactly they hit an airport or military base. Pakistan is not fighting terrorists; Pakistan is fighting an Islamist insurgency that employs terrorist tactics which can strike with impunity practically anywhere in the country. Pakistan is a nation under serious threat.
    I hate seeing reports that these animals were firing “indiscriminately”. Not true at all. Indiscriminate means random and chasing schoolkids under benches and into bushes and then massacring them with assault rifles is the opposite of indiscriminate. They were killing anything that moved and that was their devilish plan. Just like they aimed right for Malala’s face.
    There were reports that the animals were speaking a “foreign language”. If true, I’d guess Uzbek or Chechen because there are some things even a Pakistani won’t do. Pakistan not only has their “bad” Taliban problem to worry about but also all the other AQ-friendly psycho killers who have made the Land of the Pure their home. Nice job, Pakistan. Suffer the children. Poor babies.

  • RanaSahib says:

    Follow the money or “collateral benefits” flowing from these attacks in Pakistan and these will mostly accrue to its regional rival, India, hence the Hindustanis cheering of these attacks.

  • Arjuna says:

    Evan, I agree with you 100%. Containment is a losing strategy. It’s a temporary fix at best, since they will never remain “contained.” It sounds like we agree that the only good jihadi is a dead jihadi. Studying them too much is like trying to read entrails… not worth it. They need to be killed en masse (yes, Mike Scheuer was right) and then we need to leave them to their medieval religion, goats and opium. I would never trust this job to the PakMil. They are waaaay too conflicted having spawned the same wicked seed that now need killing.
    Ditto for Syraq, we need to exterminate the Islamic State and soon, not over a decade or more. If we don’t, they will eventually mount attacks that will surprise us. Scorpions anyone?
    Looks like the school attackers weren’t foreigners, but tribals. Their leader, Mullah FM, needs a Hellfire. Hope he gets one soon.

  • Iranian says:

    Terrible, evil crime.
    And why does this idiot Pakistani terrorist call himself “Khorasani” when he is not from Khorasan?
    He should call himself Mohammad Hindi or Mohammad Hindustani if he is looking to link himself to a historical name for his region, or just call himself Mohammad Paki.
    I hate it when terrorists from Pakistan try to usurp the good name of Khorasan (which is a Persian-Zoroastrian name) and blacken it with their jihadi nonsense.

  • Birbal Dhar says:

    @RanaSahib
    Follow the money and you’ll find out that it is the Pakistani ISI who are fuelling islamic terrorists in your country that have resulted in thousands or more of your civilians and army people killed.
    Blaming outsiders like Indians, Americans, Israelis or any civilised people won’t help your country, as the biggest problem in Pakistan is your Pakistani Army and it’s ISI wing who are training islamic frankenstein monsters that have now become out of control in your country.
    The ones who are cheering these attacks are your Pakistani citizens (i.e. The Pakistani Taliban) not Indians, Americans, Israelis, Britishers, French, Australians, or any other civilised people !!

  • chris says:

    All talibans are bad talibans.

  • Steve m says:

    Come on RanaSahib, take your head out and wake up. These groups all work with each other, do you really think this would happen if there was even a thought that they might be working for India, US, or Mossad(the usual scapegoats for anything bad that happens in Pak)? Saleem Shahad was murdered for exposing ISI links with these same groups. As long as they have enough people like you, willing to bury your head in the sand and ignore the facts piled up all around you, the ISI will continue to play their game with people like you as nothing more than collateral damage.

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Aqap

Al shabaab

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