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As I sat down writing this article, my eyes are drenched in tears as I hear the horrific tales of survivors of Army Public School in Peshawar which became the epicenter of one of the deadliest attacks in Pakistan’s history. It’s been eight years since the attack, yet the memories haunting the survivors are still fresh. Many are still awaiting justice. This is their story.

The then 15-year-old Syed Bakir Naqvi was in the auditorium when the 7 gunmen targeted the students and teachers of Army Public School. He was hiding beneath a chair in the auditorium of Army Public School when militants entered and opened indiscriminate fire at the participants of the first aid training. He saw an attacker piercing three bullets in the back of his teacher who had bent down beneath the chair in a bid to hide.

It has been 8 years since Taliban fighters broke into a Pakistani military-run school in Peshawar, killing 140 people. Most of them were children.

After hitting people sitting in the first row, which were mostly teachers, the terrorists started attacking students running for their lives. Some of the students managed to open two of the front doors and as the students ran outside, the gunmen targeted both the gates causing huge fatalities and stampedes. Bakir hid under the benches when one of the militants shouted ‘There are so many children beneath the benches, go and get them’. As the man in black boots started approaching him, Bakir thought he wouldn’t survive. The man went through him without noticing Bakir hiding beneath, after a few seconds he turned around and located Bakir. As he shot at his head, the little boy shifted his head and the bullet went touching his scalp without actually piercing through the bone. But due to blood, the terrorist assumed him to be dead.

Peshawar School Attack

Though Bakir and his brother Sitwat Ali who studied 12th standard in the same school remained safe- their mother was not so lucky. Syeda Farhat Bibi Jefery was the teacher at the school and was shot down by the attackers. Those who survived emerged with stories of horror they faced on 16th December 2014. The militants struck shortly before 11 a.m when about 1,000 students, mostly students from 1st to 10th grade and teachers were inside. Most of the students were killed in the auditorium as the military collected about 100 bodies from the auditorium alone.

One of the teachers was burnt alive by the attackers. They literally set the teacher on fire with gasoline and made the kids watch in horror.

Another student Shahrukh Khan then aged 16 recalls how he laid still pretending to be dead after the militants shot both of his legs. But others were not so lucky. There was a pile of dead bodies throughout the school, let alone the auditorium. Khalid Khan, then 13, recounts how his classmates were all killed by the terrorists. He was knocked unconscious and woke up in the hospital later.

Peshawar School Attack

A student named Sher Shah was deemed as a hero as he died proudly saving the lives of others. Sher Shah was the elder son of Tufail Khattak, he was a brilliant and handsome student of the school. Sher Shah managed to flee the auditorium when the initial massacre began but came back to save his younger brother Ahmad Shah who was with him inside the auditorium. Afraid that he might be killed, Sher Shah rushed to his rescue however got shot thrice in the chest by the militants. When he arrived at the hospital, instead of getting himself treated first- he asked the doctor to save the lives of two of his friends. Sher Shah is a martyr and a proud son of his father.

https://www.facebook.com/HumansOfPakistan.org/photos/a.587691221320292/906650002757744/?type=3

Like this, there are countless stories that depict the chilling details of a massacre that unfolded on the morning of 16th December. A school referred to as a safe haven for students turned into a graveyard where more the 132 students of the school died at the hands of a nameless terrorist. And it also shows us the audacity of these militants to shoot innocent kids without any hesitation. What kind of toxic mentality do they bear that doesn’t stop their hands from killing innocents, especially kids?

With such stories of the past, we learn that the world is no more a safe place for kids to laugh, learn and grow.


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