Education is the enemy of the zealot, and Islamist zealots took that fight out on innocents in the recent Peshawar Army School massacre of December 16, 2014. On that day, at around midmorning, seven militants of the Pakistan Taliban scaled the walls of that educational institution, and let loose with a barrage of gunfire that indiscriminately targeted children attending a first aid class in the school’s auditorium.

The attack, which killed 145 people including 132 children, has rocked this Muslim nation to its core, which has announced a three day morning period while simultaneously calling for the lifting of a six year moratorium on the death penalty in that nation. Horror and tales of heroism have emerged that have both saddened and bolstered the nation that has faced more than a decade of terrorist attacks.

Fifteen Minutes of Unbridled Carnage and Terror

In an all too familiar and grim tableaus, the first sound of danger came in the form of approaching gunfire as the militants moved towards the center of the campus. Teachers and staff members shepherded their young charges to safety wherever it could be found behind barricaded classroom doors.

According to witnesses on the scene, the killers began firing indiscriminately before targeting the children of high-ranking Pakistani soldiers. The Peshawar Army School is one of thirteen similar institutions that are tasked with the education of the nation’s military’s children.

Pakistani security forces responded with alacrity, and were on the scene within fifteen minutes of the start of the attack. That prompt response and the heroic efforts of school officials kept the number of fatality much lower among the nearly 1100 students who were attending the school that day.

The price for those who stood in the way of the terrorists was high.

School principal, Tahira Kazi, was burned to death by the attackers after refusing to abandon her post and students to the maelstrom of violence.

"I can’t go into safety leaving my children among the beasts," said Kazi.

Among the beasts. It was a fitting description.

Pakistani Taliban Claim Credit

Pakistani extremist were quick to take credit for the attack claiming it was in response to Pakistani army efforts to oust militants from the North Waziristan Tribal Areas along the border with Afghanistan. In stepped up operations, dubbed Operation Zarb-e-Azb, which has seen unrelenting pressure exerted on extremist elements in that area.

In an email statement following the attack, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the attack planners claimed they targeted the school because of the Pakistan army actions in North Waziristan.

"We targeted the school because the army targets our families. We want them to feel our pain." Said TTP spokesman Muhammad Omar Khorasani.

The Pakistani Army, and indeed the entire nation, is feeling that pain, but it is a pain that is filled with a terrible resolve as the nation vows to strike even harder at extremist elements hiding out in the rugged Tribal Areas that have sheltered militants for decades.

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