Pakistan in mourning after Peshawar school massacre

Pakistanis grieve for the 141 people, mostly students, who were killed by Taliban militants

Baku. 17 December. REPORT.AZ/ Mass funerals, prayers, protests and candlelit vigils have been held across Pakistan on Wednesday as the country mourns the deaths of 141 people, mostly students, killed in the siege of an army-run school in the city of Peshawar.

The bodies of dozens of students were transported to their hometowns in different parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where thousands attended their funerals to support the grieving families, informs Report citing Anadolu Agency.

The national flag flew half-mast on all state-owned buildings while several cities and towns remained shut in response to a government-designated three-day mourning period.

“Devils butchered our little angles,” was the headline of The Nation, a local English daily. All newspapers were flooded with pictures and headlines on the massacre, which the main Taliban coalition, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, claimed responsibility for.

TV footage showed emotional scenes as friends and relatives of students wailed at their funeral prayers in Peshawar, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Mardan, Noshera, Swabi, and numerous other districts.

Schools, colleges, shops, markets and business centers remained closed in the entire Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and across the country.

Hundreds queued outside Lady Reading Hospital, Peshawar’s largest, after doctors appealed for blood donations for the injured.

“Ya Allah, whoever committed this gruesome act, send them to hell. And also send those to hell who protect and patronize them,” said a young Imam after the midday prayers in the southern port city of Karachi.

All the worshippers sitting behind him replied in unison, “Ameen”, in agreement.

“I could not sleep the whole night. I still cannot believe this,” said Mohammad Salman, a real estate agent whose two children study at an army-run school in Karachi. “The faces of terrified students who were running to save their lives from terrorists have settled in my mind. I cannot simply get over that.”

Security around army-run schools in all over the country has been bolstered with many schools detailing armed security guards at entrance gates.

The leaders of all political parties, large and small, have gathered in Peshawar, where they vowed to continue to fight against militancy.

“These cowardly attempts cannot shake our faith and confidence. We all are united and on one-page in war against terrorists,” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said while addressing an all-parties conference in Peshawar. “We have to continue our war, keeping the faces of our innocent children in our minds.”

Sharif said he had spoken to Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, the president of neighboring Afghanistan, and emphasized that the two countries should work together to defeat the Taliban -- who operate in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“He has expressed his full support and solidarity with Pakistan. He has assured me that Afghanistan would lend all support for elimination of terrorists attacking Pakistanis,” Sharif said.

Army Chief General Raheel Sharif and the head of Pakistan's top intelligence agency, Inter Services Intelligence, flew to Kabul on Wednesday for discussions with Afghan officials about security issues and cooperating in battling the threat posed by Taliban militants on both sides of border.

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