We want them to feel the pain: Taliban on school attack

ISLAMABAD: The Taliban attacked a military-run school in Peshawar killing over 120 students because they wanted revenge for the Pakistani military targeting their own families, a spokesman of the terror group said.

"We selected the army's school for the attack because the government is targeting our families and females," said Taliban spokesman Muhammad Umar Khorasani. "We want them to feel the pain."

The Pakistani Taliban, who are fighting to topple the government and set up a strict Islamic state, have vowed to step up attacks in response to a major army operation against the insurgents in the tribal areas.

They have targeted security forces, checkpoints, military bases and airports, but attacks on civilian targets with no logistical significance are relatively rare.

In September, 2013, dozens of people, including many children, were killed in an attack on a church, also in Peshawar, a sprawling and violent city near the Afghan border.

With the rescue operation under way, the situation remained fluid, with contradictory reports about what was happening inside the school and witness accounts difficult to come by.

"An army doctor was visiting us teaching us about first aid when attackers came from behind our school and started firing," one student told Pakistan's Dunya Television.

"Our teachers locked the door and we ducked on the floor, but they (militants) broke down the door. Initially they fired in the air and later started killing the students, but left the hall suddenly.

"The attackers had long beards, wore shalwar kameez (traditional baggy clothes) and spoke Arabic."

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attack and said he was on his way to Peshawar.

"I can't stay back in Islamabad. This is a national tragedy unleashed by savages. These were my kids," he said in a statement.

"This is my loss. This is the nation's loss. I am leaving for Peshawar now and I will supervise this operation myself." (With inputs from Agencies)