Pakistan: Sickening Taliban school attack highlights vulnerability of civilians

The Taliban attack on a school in the Pakistani city of Peshawar today shows a merciless disregard for human life and highlights the urgent need for protection of civilians in the area, Amnesty International has said.

At least 126 people, mainly children, were killed when several armed men entered the school and began firing indiscriminately at students and teachers in one of the most shocking Taliban attacks in recent memory.

David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Asia-Pacific, said:

“There can be absolutely no justification for targeting children in this way. This unconscionable Taliban attack is a grave reminder that civilians in north-west Pakistan desperately need effective protection from militant groups.

“Of prime importance now is that the Pakistani authorities take effective steps to protect civilians and minimise the risk of this type of sickening tragedy being repeated.”

A Taliban spokesman said the attack was a response to recent Pakistani army operations in nearby North Waziristan, in which hundreds of Taliban fighters were killed. The school, in an area of Peshawar close to a military cantonment, was run by the army and some of the students were children of army members.

The Taliban have targeted students in Pakistan on numerous occasions, but this is by far their deadliest attack on a school.

Since 2010, there have been at least four attacks on school buses – including the one in which Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousufzai was shot in the head in the Swat Valley in 2012. There have been at least three Taliban attacks on schools this year, with one fatality.

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