Hundreds of students were taken hostage by the Pakistani Taliban at a military school in the Pakistani city of Peshawar Tuesday. At least 20 students and one soldier have been killed. The Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar said the hospital had received the bodies of Â 21 people, and are treating 40 wounded students along with two male teachers.
The attack began in the morning hours. Reports say six gunmen entered the school a military-run facility with students in grades 1-10, and started shooting at random. About 500 students and teachers were believed to be inside at the time of the attack. Army commandos quickly arrived at the scene and exchanged fire with the gunmen. Shooting was heard outside of the school along with one loud bang of unknown origin. The Pakistani military said in a statement that a rescue operation was underway and that most of the students and the staff had been evacuated.
Abdullah Jamal was one of the students wounded. He said that he was with a group of 8th, 9th and 10th graders who were getting first-aid instructions when the violence began.
” I saw children falling down who were crying and screaming. I also fell down. I learned later that I have got a bullet.”
“All the children had bullet wounds. All the children were bleeding,” he added.
Jamal was one of the pupils wounded; he was shot in the leg.
Another student inside the school told a private television channel, “We were in the examination hall when all of sudden firing started, and our teachers told us to silently lay on the floor. We remained on the floor for an hour. There was a lot of gunfire.”
A school bus driver who witnessed the attack said, “We were standing outside the school, and firing suddenly started and there was chaos everywhere and the screams of children and teachers.”
In a phone call to media, Taliban spokesman Mohammed Khurasani claimed responsibility for the attack. He said that six suicide bombers had carried out the attack in revenge for the killings of Taliban members at the hands of Pakistani authorities.