On Tuesday, December 16, Taliban militants stormed a school in Peshawar, Pakistan and proceeded to kill 148 students and teachers. Amid the worldwide condemnation for the attack, the Pope and Pakistan’s persecuted Christian community have joined with the rest of the nation in mourning. The Pope offered prayers on behalf of the victims in Rome and the Christian community of Pakistan has decided to cancel Christmas celebrations in respect to the victims of the most recent Taliban attack.
12/18/2014 Pakistan (Aleteia) – Amid worldwide condemnation of the deadly Taliban attack on an army school in Pakistan, which left 148 students and others dead, Pope Francis has joined the mourners.
“May God welcome the dead into his peace, comfort the families and convert the hearts of the violent ones, who do not even stop before children,” Pope Francis during his Wednesday general audience at the Vatican today.
Condemning “inhuman terrorist acts,” including in Yemen and Australia, the Holy Father exhorted pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square to join him in a moment of silent prayer for the victims.
As many as 132 students and nine staff members, including Tahira Qazi, the principal, were killed in the Army Public School and College, located in Peshawar, on Tuesday. Others died overnight. The attack was carried out by heavily armed Taliban insurgents who entered the facility posing as army officers. The school serves predominantly children of army personnel; it enrolled over 1,000 students.
Describing the attack as “barbaric,” the Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ National Commission for Justice and Peace in a press statement today called it “one of the most horrific and inhumane acts.”
“We grieve and stand with the families of the children affected and killed in this cowardly act,” it said.
“We plead to the governments, all political parties, religious leaders… and judiciary to set aside all their personal and political differences and join hands to end this menace of terrorism collectively,” Father Emmanuel Yousaf Mani, director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace, urged in the statement.
News reports said that armed rebels belonging to the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying it was “retaliation” for ongoing military operations against the insurgents in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.