5 Facts You Need To Know: The Taliban’s Attack On Peshawar School That Killed 132 Children
Yesterday, a branch of the Taliban in Pakistan launched a horrific attack on an army school in the city of Peshawar. Here are five things you should know about this story.
1. What happened? Seven Taliban gunmen cut a hole in the wire fence surrounding the school. They were wearing suicide vests and carrying automatic weapons, which they opened fire with when they arrived in an auditorium where several students were sitting for exams. After gunning down students as they attempted to flee, the attackers walked through the school, shooting whoever they found, until a Quick Reaction unit from the Pakistani Army arrived. The shooters then took hostages for an eight-hour standoff, until an army commando team was able to take them all out and rescue surviving students and staff.
2. Why was the school attacked? Because the Peshawar Army Public School teaches the children of locally stationed Pakistani military personnel, as well as children from civilian families. A spokesman from the Tehreek-e-Taliban group claiming responsibility for the attack said, “We targeted the school because the army targets our families. We want them to feel our pain.”
3. What’s the death toll? It’s currently being reported as 145 individuals: 132 children, 10 teachers, and 3 Pakistani soldiers. (The seven Taliban attackers aren’t counted toward this number.) More than a hundred more people were shot and injured as well. Some reports suggest that older pupils in particular were targeted, and it appears to have been classes of ninth- and tenth-grade boys specifically that were sitting in the auditorium for exams.
4. What next? Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has declared three days of national mourning for the loss of so many young lives. He’s also declared an end to the moratorium on applying the death penalty as punishment for terrorist attacks.
5. How can we make this about us? How about this instead: can we not, please? But people are already working on turning this in a self-centered direction, of course. Early analysis from CNN‘s Wolf Blitzer tried to steer the conversation away from these poor kids who lost their lives and their mourning families, and toward what could,Â in theory, happen to Americans:
“[I]f these terrorists are willing to commit such a heinous massacre against school kids, fellow Muslims, if you will, you can imagine what they would do to Americans if they were given a chance.”
This isn’t about Americans. This is about innocent Pakistani children who will never go to another day of school. This is about families who have been ripped to pieces. This is not about us, and any attempts to make it so need to stop. Peshawar, you are in our hearts today, and we are so, so sorry for what you have lost.