Taliban attackers’ brazen assault on a school in Pakistan’s Peshawar city that claimed the lives of over 150 students today has brought back chilling memories of a similar bloodbath in Russia in 2004 when Chechen rebels stormed a school.
A group of suicide attackers wearing paramilitary Frontier Corps uniforms entered Army Public School on Warsak Road, Peshawar, around 10.30 (local time) and started indiscriminate firing.
The militants went from classroom-to-classroom shooting indiscriminately at the shocked students. Also at least one militant blew himself up inside the building.
The assault immediately brought back memories of the Beslan school hostage crisis in which more than 330 people, the majority of them children, were killed.
The scale of the violence at the school in Beslan, a city in the North Caucasus republic of North Ossetia, Russia, and the fact that the attackers deliberately targeted young children had traumatised the Russian public and horrified the outside world.
The siege in Beslan began on the morning of September 1, 2004, when at least 32 armed individuals stormed the school and took more than 1,000 hostages, including pupils in both primary and secondary grades and their teachers, as well as parents and relatives who had gathered to celebrate the opening day of the new school year.
Some people died in the initial attack, but most were herded into a gymnasium, which the attackers rigged with explosives.
The siege ended on the morning of September 3, when explosions inside the school prompted Russian special forces to enter the building.
Responsibility for the atrocity was claimed by Riyadus-Salikhin, a Chechen liberation group, led by the notorious rebel warlord Shamil Basayev, who previously had been blamed for the takeover of a Moscow theatre in 2002 that ended in the deaths of some 130 hostages, the assassination of Akhmad Kadyrov, the pro-Moscow president of Chechnya, in May 2004, and countless other acts of terrorism and murder.
The attack in Pakistan was claimed by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. TTP’s spokesman claimed that its six suicide bombers attacked army school, saying it was a revenge for the army’s operation against militants in the North Waziristan tribal area close to Peshawar.