PESHAWAR, Pakistan – Emotional students bravely returned to a military-run school in Pakistan Monday for the first time since Taliban terrorists massacred 153 people.
Extra security measures were put in place as children arrived at the Army Public School in Peshawar, where militants in suicide vests laid siege to classrooms, shooting indiscriminately into crowds or killing youngsters one by one. Schools across the country were ordered shut after the Dec. 16 atrocity — which ended with 134 children dead.
Pakistan army chief General Raheel Sharif and his wife were on hand to greet students and their parents at the scene of the killings, while victims’ families were invited to special ceremony.
Many of those grieving struggled to contain their emotions as the traditional morning students' parade began.
Some bereaved parents did not attend the ceremony.
"I did not attend the function as it would have reminded me again of the black day I spent outside the school,” said one father who insisted on anonymity. “After day-long efforts I finally received the bullet-riddled body of my son.”
He continued: "Today I am so sad as if my son died again. I often think how those merciless people would have killed my son and his innocent colleagues. He would have cried for my help and died of his injuries. These are the things that don't allow me to sleep.”
Students will receive a week of special classes to deal with their trauma before normal lessons resume.
Among those returning was 12th grade student Mohammad Aamir, who suffered bullet injuries on his right arm and was lucky to have survived.
"It was the harshest day of my life and very difficult to forget,” he said. “I lost most of my classmates. After this trauma I can't store things in my memory and forget everything after a few minutes," he said.
Farah Naz, 40, lost her only son, Mohammad Uzair, in the massacre. The 9th grade student was in the school’s auditorium where most of the victims were gunned down.
"I managed to find out some of his classmates and it seemed to me I saw my son Uzair,” she said as tears rolled down her cheeks.
Like many other parents, she didn't understand why her young son was killed as his father was not serving in the military, referring to Taliban's claim for attacking the school as they wanted kill children of military officials.
Headed by Maulana Fazlullah, the Pakistani Taliban has threatened to target schools again if the government did not stop military offensive against them in Pakistan's lawless tribal areas.