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Students return to Pakistani school after massacre

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Hundreds of Pakistani children Monday returned to a school in the north-western city of Peshawar, almost a month after Taliban gunmen killed 136 students, defying fresh threats by radicals.

Dressed in green blazers, young girls and boys walked into the Army Public School with their parents amid a tight security in and around the building, live footage on Pakistani television channels showed.

Pakistan military chief General Raheel Sharif attended a ceremony to mark the reopening of the school after the December 16 deadly attack.

Seven Taliban gunmen stormed the school and killed 142 people including 132 children in the deadliest attack ever in Pakistan.

At least four more students and six adults later succumbed to their injuries, bringing the death toll to 152.

The attack triggered a massive reaction by Pakistani security forces, political leaders and the public with all resolving to fight the radicals and their ideology.

“We are not afraid of them,” a young student said live on a TV channel before stepping into the school. “We will pursue our studies and dreams.”

But for parents like Muhammad Riaz, it was a hard decision to send their children back to the school.

“It is a bit scary,” said Riaz, who lost 15-year-old son in the attack and sent three more children back to the school on Monday. “But neither my children nor I will back off.”

At the ceremony Sharif promised to eliminate radicals, saying the fight against the Taliban would continue until the death of last rebel.

Schools, colleges and universities were also reopened in other cities after a prolonged winter vacations due to Taliban threats.

Punjab province’s Education Minister Rana Mashood told dpa that local governments have taken several security measures to protect educational institutes in the wake of a fresh threat by Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah.

“We will inflict more pain on you,” Fazlullah said in a video released last week. “Our men will hit you so hard this time that the people will forget the Peshawar attack.” SAPA

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