Taliban gunmen stormed a military-run school in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar today, killing at least 126 people, mostly children, in the worst attack to hit the country in over a year.
The overwhelming majority of the victims were students at the army public school, which educates children and teenagers under 16.
The horrific violence, carried out by a relatively small number of militants from the Tehreek-e-Taliban group, a Pakistani militant group trying to overthrow the government, also sent dozens of wounded flooding into local hospitals, with terrified parents searched for their children.
"My son was in uniform in the morning. He is in a casket now," wailed one parent, Tahir Ali, as he came to the hospital to collect the body of his 14-year-old son Abdullah. "My son was my dream. My dream has been killed."
The attack began in the morning hours, with about half a dozen gunmen entering the school - and shooting at random, said police officer Javed Khan. Army commandos quickly arrived at the scene and exchanged fire with the gunmen, he said. Students wearing their green school uniforms could be seen on Pakistani television fleeing the area.
Outside the school, shooting was initially heard along with one loud bang of unknown origin. Details were sketchy in the face of the overwhelming tragedy. Pakistani television showed soldiers surrounding the area and pushing people back. Ambulances streamed from the area to local hospitals.
Khattack said fighting was still underway in some parts of the school and that roughly the same number of students have been wounded.