British politicians have united in condemnation of a Taliban attack on a school in Pakistan which has claimed the lives of at least 126 people – a large majority of them thought to be children.
Prime Minister David Cameron said the scenes unfolding in the city of Peshawar were “horrifying”, while Labour leader Ed Miliband said it was “appalling” that schoolchildren should be targeted.
A Pakistani military source told US TV network NBC that at least 10 attackers wearing police uniforms and suicide vests stormed the army-run school this morning. The gunmen were reported to have fired at random inside the school before the building was surrounded by Pakistani troops, who exchanged fire with the militants.
“They burnt a teacher in front of the students in a classroom,” said the unnamed military source. “They literally set the teacher on fire with gasoline and made the kids watch.”
Most of the school’s 500 children are understood to have been evacuated, but many were being held hostage in the building. A Pakistani official put the death toll at 126.
Mr Cameron said: “The news from Pakistan is deeply shocking. It’s horrifying that children are being killed simply for going to school.”
Mr Miliband added his voice to the outrage, saying: “Devastating news from Pakistan. Appalling that schoolchildren were targeted in this murderous attack. My thoughts are with those affected.”
Gunfire and explosions were heard shortly after the militants entered the school at around 10am local time (5am UK time). A number of teachers and a member of the security forces were believed to be among those killed.
The school is sited on the edge of a military cantonment in the city of Peshawar, and some of the pupils are thought to be the children of members of the armed forces.
Taliban spokesman Mohammed Khurasani said six suicide bombers had carried out the attack in revenge for the killing of Taliban members by Pakistani forces.
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