The mind-numbing savagery of radical Islam plumbed new depths in Pakistan yesterday. Taliban terrorists shouting “Allahu akbar” attacked the Army Public School and Degree College in Peshawar, slaughtering 142 people, including 132 children between the ages of six and 16. Another 10 staff members, including the principal, were also murdered. “They didn’t take any hostages initially and started firing in the hall,” said Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa, a military spokesman.
The details of the slaughter are horrific. “We were in the education hall when militants barged in, shooting,” said Zeeshan, a student, speaking at a hospital. “Our instructor asked us to duck and lay down and then I saw militants walking past rows of students shooting them in the head.” Another student confirmed those shootings. “The gunmen entered class by class and shot some kids one by one,” he told local media. Jamshed Khan, a school bus driver, also described the scene. “We were standing outside the school and firing suddenly started and there was chaos everywhere and the screams of children and teachers,” he said.
According to the International Business Times, the Taliban monsters allegedly stooped even lower to satisfy their bloodlust. “They burnt a teacher in front of the students in a classroom,” an unnamed military source revealed. “They literally set the teacher on fire with gasoline and made the kids watch.” Moreover, Pakistani officials revealed that many of the dead children brought to the hospital had their heads chopped off.
The assault began around 11 a.m. local time (1 a.m. EST) when seven terrorists wearing police uniforms and suicide vests scaled the wall of the school. They immediately began lobbing hand grenades and shooting indiscriminately at a time when approximately 1,000 of the school’s 2,500 male and female students in grades one through 10 were in attendance. The siege lasted more than eight hours, with Pakistani security forces forced to deal with five “heavy” explosions heard around 5 a.m. EST, in a seeming attempt to hinder rescue efforts. All seven attackers were ultimately killed, with the Daily News reporting that once they were finally cornered by Pakistani commandos “they blew themselves up rather than surrender.” A sweep of the compound for additional explosives was subsequently undertaken.
An unnamed security official illuminated the one and only objective of these savage thugs. “These attackers were not in the mood to take hostages,” he said. “They were there to kill and this is what they did.”
The killers were part of the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) group, a Pakistani terrorist organization attempting to over throw the Pakistani government, and the same group to which wannabe 2010 Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad belonged. TTP spokesman Mohammed Khurasani told the Karachi-based Express Tribune the attack was an act of revenge. “We selected the army’s school for the attack because the government is targeting our families and females,” he said, referring to Pakistan’s ongoing military offensive taking place on the Afghan border. “We want them to feel the pain.”
Gen. Bajwa confirmed that almost all of the children killed belonged to members of the Pakistani military. Army chief of staff General Raheel Sharif called the killers “inhuman beasts.” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who arrived in Peshawar where authorities have declared a three-day mourning period, promised certain reprisal. “Those behind the heinous act will not be spared,” he vowed.
Sharif also announced a meeting of all government parties scheduled for today. Its comes amidst political turbulence orchestrated by opposition leader Imran Khan whose political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), controls the provincial government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Khan has led a series of protests in a effort to unseat Sharif, because he believes the Prime Minister’s supporters rigged the 2013 election, and because he disagrees with the army’s ongoing effort against terrorists in tribal areas. That effort, known as Operation Zarb-e-Azb, has killed approximately 1,800 terrorists operating in North Waziristan, an epicenter of Taliban terrorist activity. And while public support for that campaign has been described as “lukewarm,” due to what by government policy-makers attribute to “lack of consensus” and “large pockets of sympathy” for terrorists, Khan’s belief the government should negotiate with the terrorists instead of fighting them has garnered considerable criticism.
Unfortunately, he is not alone in that regard. The same day President Obama insisted the Taliban had “once again shown their depravity,” Breitbart News revealed a statement made in 2012 by Obama at Bagram Airfield Base, home of the U.S. Air Forces Central Command in Afghanistan. “We’re pursuing a negotiated peace. In coordination with the Afghan government my administration has been in direct discussions with the Taliban … Many members of the Taliban, from foot soldiers to leaders, have indicated an interest in reconciliation,” he said at the time.
The BBC wonders whether this heinous attack will constitute a “watershed” moment for the Pakistani government. Americans might be forgiven for wondering the same thing with regard to the Obama administration.
Other world leaders issued forceful condemnations of the slaughter. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon referred to it as “an act of horror and rank cowardice.” British Prime Minister David Cameron characterized it as “deeply shocking,” adding that it was “horrifying that children are being killed simply for going to school.” Indian prime minister Narendra Modi called it “cowardly,” and a “senseless act of unspeakable brutality that has claimed lives of the most innocent of human beings–young children in their school.”
Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, the young girl shot in the head by would-be Taliban assassins in 2012 when she was only 15, also added her voice to the mix. “Innocent children in their school have no place in horror such as this,” she said in a statement. “I, along with millions of others around the world, mourn these children, my brothers and sisters — but we will never be defeated.”
Pakistan has already responded to the tragedy. Gen. Shariff tweeted that “massive air strikes” had been carried out in the Khyber region of the country, and Sharif insisted that Operation Zarb-e-Azb “will continue until the terrorism is rooted out from our land.” The latest attack is part of a bloody track record in a nation where 50,000 people have been killed by terrorist violence in the past 13 years.
Devastated parent Tahir Ali expressed the grief undoubtedly shared by every parent victimized by this brutality. “My son was in uniform in the morning, he is in a casket now,” Ali said. “My son was my dream. My dream has been killed.”
One would hope the world’s denial about radical Islam, pockmarked by occasional outbursts of horror whenever the next atrocity occurs, will suffer the same fate. We are two days removed from the attack in Sydney, one of many where the mainstream media and feckless politicians seek the false comfort of the “lone wolf” theory that amounts to nothing more than a willful refusal to connect the dots.
An Obama administration that refers to the war on terror as “an overseas contingency operation” and applauds the conclusions of a one-sided report denigrating the CIA, hardly inspires confidence that the status quo will change. Thus, the only question is when the next horrific atrocity will occur. Should Americans have confidence that it won’t be in their own shopping malls, train stations, airports and city squares? The answer is a clear “no.”
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