PESHAWAR, Pakistan - Tributes were paid Thursday to a high school student who officials say foiled a suicide bomb attack in an act of “bravery” that cost him his life.
Aitazaz Hassan, 17, was killed instantly - but police and school officials said the lives of up to 1,500 other students had been saved.
“My son did a heroic job and I am proud on his bravery,” said the boy’s grieving father, Mujahid Ali.
The teenager challenged the would-be bomber at the school entrance, said Lal Baz Ali, principal of the state-run Ibrahimzai High School, in the Hangu district of Pakistan’s volatile Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region.
After a “physical” scuffle, the bomber – wearing a jacket carrying 13 pounds of explosives – detonated the device, killing the teenager instantly.
“It would have been terrible had he succeeded entering the school building,” Lal Baz told NBC News by telephone.
Tributes were paid to the boy on social media Thursday, with the hashtag #onemillionaitzazs trending on Twitter in Pakistan and elsewhere.
An anti-Shia sectarian militant organization, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, claimed responsibility for Monday’s botched attack. It is thought Shia students at the school were the intended targets.
Lal Baz said Hassan was a brave, polite and talented student – and that the school was proud of his actions.
The boy’s father, Mujahid Ali, was working overseas as a laborer in the Qatari capital, Doha, at the time of the attack. He has since returned to his grieving family.
He said not a single government official or minister has visited the family or telephoned to offer condolences.
“I would be happier if the government named the school after him, to give a credit to his sacrifice,” Ali said.