A TEENAGE boy from Pakistan who died when he stopped a suicide bomber killing hundreds of children at his school has been hailed as a "martyr" by his friends and family.
Aitzaz Hassan (15) tackled the suicide bomber outside the main gates of his school when he saw a man wearing a suicide vest. He died in hospital after the suicide bomber blew himself up, injuring two others.
Aitzaz's bravery saved hundreds of schoolchildren in the north-western district of Hangu, Pakistan.
According to police official Shakirullah Bangash, the school was the target of the attack and most of its 1,000 pupils are Shi'ite Muslims.
The teenager's father, Mujahid Ali Bangash (55), said: "Aitzaz has made us proud by valiantly intercepting the bomber and saving the lives of hundreds of his fellow students.
"I am happy that my son has become a martyr by sacrificing his life for a noble cause," he said.
Speaking of the tributes that have been made to Aitzaz, his father added: "Many people are coming to see me, but if they try to express sympathy I tell them to congratulate me instead on becoming the father of a martyr."
Aitzaz's cousin Mudassir Bangash described him as an accomplished student who excelled in all extracurricular activities.
The teenager's act of bravery has sparked an outpouring of tributes on social media and has started the Twitter hashtag #AitzazBraveheart.
Many have even called for Aitzaz to be honoured by the government. Sherry Rehman, Pakistan's former ambassador to the US, tweeted: "Hangu's shaheed (martyr) Aitzaz Hasan is Pakistan's pride. Give him a medal at least. Another young one with heartstopping courage #AitzazBraveheart."
The district has a history of sectarian violence and was declared a "sensitive region" during the month of Moharram, considered especially holy by Shi'ites.
Pakistan is rife with sectarian clashes, with Sunni militant groups linked to al-Qa'ida and the Taliban often attacking gatherings by Shi'ites, who constitute some 20pc of the country's population. (© Daily Telegraph, London)