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Dozens Killed As Taliban Gunmen Storm Pakistani School

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Let's get an update on today's school attack in Pakistan. Taliban gunmen walked into and opened fire inside a military-run school filled with children in the city of Peshawar. Katherine Houreld of Reuters has been covering this story from Islamabad. And what's happening now, Katherine?

KATHERINE HOURELD: Well, right now the military says that it has cleared all the gunmen from the school. Six of the gunmen have been shot dead. They also said that they left booby-trapped bombs around the school. Sorry, it's not clear yet if all of those have been diffused. But mostly parents in Peshawar are just rushing around from hospital to hospital back to the site of the school trying to find any missing children. Unfortunately some of them have found their children dead.

INSKEEP: And what is your best number for the number of people killed here?

HOURELD: At the moment, we're saying at least 130 people, most of them children unfortunately. Many of those were shot in the back or the heads as they tried to run away. Others were shot by the Taliban as they tried to hide under their desks, or a few teachers who were killed as they tried to barricade doors and protect the children.

INSKEEP: How many Taliban attackers were there this morning?

HOURELD: The Taliban say that they killed - the Taliban said that they sent six, but the military said that they killed nine. So reading into that discrepancy isn't immediately clear to us.

INSKEEP: So would you describe how this attack unfolded And why the Taliban say at least that they targeted this particular school, which is run by the military for in part children of military families although not entirely?

HOURELD: The Taliban definitely targeted this school because it was run by the military. A lot of the children here are the children of people who are fighting the Taliban up north. They said that this was revenge for a military operation organized by the military, which began on June the 15. And they said the army targets our families. We want them to feel our pain, and that's what they've done.

They came into the school around midmorning. They started shooting students. We don't know exactly what transpired in all of the classrooms, but in one of the classrooms a teacher was shot and then set on fire in front of her students. Other students were dragged out from underneath desks, and others managed to sneak out the back door being very, very quiet, saying prayers just in case they were killed on the way out.

INSKEEP: In the few seconds we have, are there indications that this attack has made Pakistanis more resolute in fighting the Taliban?

HOURELD: I think that the country is definitely united in grief and rage. The issue is that not everybody agrees on what to do next. Everybody is resolute that children shouldn't be killed. The question is, what are they going to do about it?

INSKEEP: Katherine Houreld, thanks very much for your coverage throughout this morning.

HOURELD: Thank you.

INSKEEP: She is a correspondent for Reuters in Islamabad - in Pakistan - where the Taliban attacked a school today, killing many. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.