Taliban Justify Attack That Killed 132 Children, 10 Adults

family mourning
Fifteen-year-old Mohammed Ali Khan's family mourns his death. (Reuters Zohra Bensemra)

The nation of Pakistan is mourning Wednesday after Taliban gunmen killed 132 children and 10 adults at a military-run school.

The funerals have already begun for those who were killed Tuesday when seven Taliban gunmen, with explosives strapped to their bodies, stormed the army public school in the city of Peshawar.

"They started shooting them indiscriminately. And after that they started spreading into other wings of the school where they were contained," Pakistan military spokesman Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa said.

The school massacre marks the deadliest slaughter of innocents ever seen in Pakistan and has horrified a country where extremist attacks have become normal.

"They killed kids. They are cowards," Peshawar resident Mohammad Saleem said.

The White House and countries around the world were quick to condemn the attack.

"The depraved decision that one has to make to storm a school of innocent children and open fire on them, I think is a testament to how cold-blooded these extremists are," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

Across the country, officials and school children are holding special prayer services for the victims.

This northwest corner of Pakistan has long endured violent clashes between the Taliban and Pakistani forces, who are supported by the United States.

The Taliban said Wednesday that the massacre was justified because the Pakistani army has killed the children of its fighters—and it's vowing to continue such attacks.

But the government of Pakistan said it will step up a military campaign that along with U.S. drone strikes, targets the militants.

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