Peshawar defiant in face of school massacre

Pakistan city mourns 149 deaths in Taliban attack as government announces arrests of suspects and intelligence raids.

    Despite fears of violence, thousands of Pakistanis in Peshawar are mourning the loss of 149 people - mainly children - killed by the Taliban in an attack on a military-run school.

    Men, women and children from Peshawar and other cities on Sunday brought flowers, bouquets, placards, and lighted candles to commemorate those killed in Tuesday's attack, now dubbed, Pakistan's "mini 9/11".

    Residents of Peshawar have begun to rebuild the school but fears have not subsided in the poverty-stricken city where the Christian community has cancelled Christmas celebrations and will just hold a service.

    Al Jazeera's Mohamed Vall, reporting from the area, where education is one of few means out of poverty, quoted local residents as saying they would not succumb to "Taliban provocation".

    "These terrorists are having guns in their hands and they want to impose their agenda on us... They want to snatch the pens from our children and give them weapons, but they will not succeed," Walayat Khan, a Peshawar resident, told Al Jazeera.

    Meanwhile, Chaudhry Nisar, Pakistan's interior minister, has said that about 300 suspects have been arrested from a suburb of Islamabad, and around 4,000 intelligence-based raids made across Pakistan in the latest crackdown.

    He said on Sunday that a joint working group of parliamentary parties would complete its recommendation by Monday evening on the government's future course of action on "eliminating terrorism".

    Executions resumed

    Nawaz Sharif, the Pakistani prime minister, has ended a six-year moratorium on the death penalty, reinstating it for terrorism-related cases with the first executions of two fighters on Friday in Punjab.

    "Aqil" had been convicted of an attack on the Pakistan army headquarters in Rawalpindi in 2009, while Arshad Mehmood had been sentenced for involvement in a 2003 assassination bid on former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

    Ghulam Sarwar, Zubair Ahmed, Akhlaq Ahmed and Rashid Tipu were hanged on Sunday in the same prison for the attempted assassination.

    However, the country's decision to reinstate executions has been criticised by human rights groups, with the UN also calling for it to reconsider.

    Human Rights Watch, the US-based rights monitor, on Saturday termed the executions "a craven politicised reaction to the Peshawar killings", and demanded that no further hangings be carried out.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Daughters of al-Shabab

    Daughters of al-Shabab

    What draws Kenyan women to join al-Shabab and what challenges are they facing when they return to their communities?