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School Where 134 Students Killed in Pakistan Reopens

Monday, 12 Jan 2015 06:41 AM

(Corrects total death toll in fifth paragraph.)

(Bloomberg) -- Students wearing green and gray uniforms returned today to the army-run school in northwest Pakistan where Taliban militants murdered 134 of their classmates in one of the deadliest attacks in the country’s history.

“This is a message that we’re not scared,” Noorin Sana, a former teacher at the school whose youngest son was killed in the Dec. 16 massacre, said by phone. “Here is another battalion standing against terrorists.”

Parents, teachers and students cried as they revisited the site of the horror. Army chief General Raheel Sharif joined them this morning at an assembly on the school’s grounds to recite verses from the Koran and sing the national anthem.

The killings changed the political atmosphere in Pakistan, with opposition parties ending months of street protests to join Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a renewed fight against terrorism. He has lifted a ban on executing terrorists and helped pass a law giving military courts jurisdiction in terrorism trials.

Seven Taliban fighters stormed into the school’s auditorium last month after scaling its back wall, killing 152 people in total in the hall, classrooms and administrative block. Taliban militants said they targeted the children of military officers and have threatened more attacks since then.

Extra security was deployed in and around the school in Peshawar, the capital of northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, as well as other schools that reopened today after the winter break.

‘Tough Moment’

Some schools in the capital of Islamabad and other cities have delayed re-opening until Jan. 15 to ensure adequate security is in place. The Lahore Grammar School in Islamabad will have snipers on the roof, a metal detector at the entrance and regular patrols during school hours, according to staff member Syra Syed.

Sahibzada Muhammad Amin said he was surprised his 14-year- old son wanted to return to the school after witnessing the horror.

“Our kids are more brave than us,” he said by phone. “I don’t know how they absorbed all this?”

The government said it plans to take measures against organizations and Islamic schools involved in terrorism and sectarianism. The military is also continuing to battle al Qaeda-linked militants in the tribal region of North Waziristan near the Afghan border in an offensive that began in June.

“It is sad, tough moment,” said Sana, the principal. “But life has to go on.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Kamran Haider in Islamabad at khaider2@bloomberg.net To contact the editors responsible for this story: Daniel Ten Kate at dtenkate@bloomberg.net Naween A. Mangi

© Copyright 2017 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

 
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Monday, 12 Jan 2015 06:41 AM
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